A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Trump’s executive order to cut funding from so called “sanctuary cities.”
Trump’s order would have removed some federal funds from cities that limit their cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the Trump administration’s argument that the measure only applies to a relatively small pool of money.
Orrick also said that Trump cannot set fresh conditions on spending that Congress has previously approved.
Monday’s ruling came in lawsuits brought by two California counties, Santa Clara and San Francisco.
“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement Monday.
“The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, in contrast, on Monday called Orrick’s ruling “a victory for the American people and the rule of law.”
“President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it,” he added in a statement.
Orrick previously made the same arguments against Trump’s order in a ruling putting a temporary hold on it last April.
The Trump administration has since appealed Orrick’s decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A DOJ lawyer argued during a hearing before Orrick in April that the order applied to a few grants that would impact less than $1 million for Santa Clara County.
The attorney also charged that the measure would potentially affect no money for San Francisco County, but Orrick disagreed.
Orrick said in his rulings that the order was written broadly to “reach all federal grants” and possibly jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the two California counties.
“Sanctuary cities” are cities that refuse full cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement.
Federal authorities say that cities should honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers.
Such ICE requests ask local jails to hold foreign detainees until the agency can picky them up, a practice that local officials counter is a violation such people’s constitutional due process rights.
Local authorities argue that cooperating with the federal government in such a fashion could expose their cities to due process lawsuits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.