Trump Loses as Judge Rules His 'Sanctuary Cities' Crackdown Is Unconstitutional

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his cabinet at the White House in Washington on November 20. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

A federal judge in California has ruled President Donald Trump's executive order to take money away from cities that refuse to help federal agents round up illegal immigrant is unconstitutional.

Funding "cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves," wrote federal Judge William H. Orrick in the ruling Monday.

Days after his inauguration, Trump signed the executive order to block cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston from receiving federal funding and federal grants because they refused to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Police chiefs in several of these cities have argued the policy would prevent people from reporting crime and speaking to the police as witnesses.

In his ruling, Orrick wrote that the executive order violated the cities tenth and fifth Amendment rights, which prohibit the executive branch from commandeering local jurisdictions and provide for due process.

The ruling on behalf of the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, which brought the suit, provides a permanent nationwide injunction against Trump's executive order.

Read more: Republicans tell Trump: Your immigration agenda leads to more illegal immigration

The Department of Justice (DOJ) immediately shot back. "The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law," said spokesman Devin O'Malley

"The Justice Department will vindicate the President's lawful authority to direct the executive branch."

Funding for cities and counties, however, rests in Congress, not the executive branch, Judge Orrick's decision points out.

"President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can't grant himself new authority because he feels like it," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "We live in a democracy. No one is above the law, including the president." He called the case a check on Trump's "abuse of power."

"The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. That's what San Francisco has done," Herrera said.

Trump called his executive order "a weapon" to use against against cities that disagreed with his policies.