The City and County of San Francisco filed a federal lawsuit today challenging President Donald Trump’s anti-sanctuary city executive order. The suit claims that the order is unconstitutional and exceeds the president’s power. In addition to the executive order, the suit cites documents issued by the Department of Justice last year which gave an expansive interpretation to 8 U.S.C. 1373, the statute relied upon to justify defunding sanctuary cities. According to the Complaint:
“This lawsuit is about state sovereignty and a local government’s autonomy to devote resources to local priorities and to control the exercise of its own police powers, rather than being forced to carry out the agenda of the Federal government. Under the Constitution and established principles of federalism, state and local governments have this autonomy. The Executive Order purports otherwise to wrest this autonomy from state and local governments, and a court order is needed to resolve this controversy.”
8 U.S.C. 1373 bars governmental entities from prohibiting or restricting the communication of individual immigration status to or from the immigration service. In a guidance document, DOJ imposed a requirement that state and local governments inform employees of the limitations the statute places on state and local governments. In an earlier memo, the department’s Office of Inspector General also suggested that state and local policies on the handling of immigration holds might violate that statute.