Supreme Court Dismisses Sanctuary City Cases, But It’s Not Over

Supreme Court Dismisses Sanctuary City Cases, But It's Not Over

( – On Thursday, March 4, the US Supreme Court agreed to dismiss cases involving sanctuary cities. In 2017, then-President Trump signed an executive order (EO) that demanded federal agencies withhold law enforcement grants from cities that declined to cooperate with federal efforts to deport illegal immigrants arrested by local police.

Trump’s EO targeted cities such as New York and San Francisco. The two cities were leaders in the sanctuary city movement and at odds with the former president over public safety. Local officials claimed that their policies protected the public by empowering immigrant communities to communicate with police without fear of reprisal. However, Trump often claimed that sanctuary cities were protecting illegal immigrants who committed serious crimes such as rape, murder, and theft.

It’s estimated that these cities stood to lose $4.1 million each year due to Trump’s EO.

Biden Requests Dismal

On January 20, President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he rescinded former President Trump’s 2017 EO ordering funds be withheld from sanctuary cities. Trump’s EO alleged that sanctuary cities violated federal law by willfully shielding illegal immigrants from deportation, thereby causing harm to the nation.

The Supreme Court at no point agreed to hear the cases in the matter, although it was likely to after there was disagreement about the legality of Trump’s EO’s in the lower courts.

In the wake of Biden’s declaration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested the court dismiss the cases. New York and San Francisco joined in the requests and the Supreme Court agreed.

Is the Matter Settled?

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera joyfully declared that the issue was “finally put to rest.”

But, is it?

It’s a highly premature assessment for several reasons.

  1. Just because Biden revoked Trump’s EO doesn’t mean it can’t be brought back in the future. Executive orders come and go with the changing of administrations. If a Republican wins the White House in 2024, Trump’s EO could easily be revived.
  2. There is no legal standard established since the lower courts are split on whether Trump’s EO was legal or not. Only the Supreme Court can make a final determination.

To say the matter is settled is hyperbole. It may be settled for the moment, but the decision is far from permanent.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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