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City of Seattle v. Trump

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 19, 2017

CITY OF SEATTLE, et al., Plaintiffs,
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al. Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Donald J. Trump, Jefferson B. Sessions, III, and John F. Kelly's (the “Government”) Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. Dkt. # 34. This motion is nearly identical to one the Government filed in County of Santa Clara v. Trump, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00574-WHO (N.D. Cal. filed Feb. 3, 2017). With this in mind, and having reviewed the parties' briefs and balance of the record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the Government's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Executive Order

         On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order No. 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8799 (Jan. 25, 2017) (“Executive Order” or “EO”). The Executive Order announced policies and priorities concerning the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Section 9(a) of the Executive Order regards the eligibility of “sanctuary jurisdictions” to receive federal ORDER - 1 funding. Specifically, section 9(a) provides:

In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.

EO § 9(a). The Executive Order does not define “sanctuary jurisdiction” and does not expand upon what constitutes “willfully refus[ing] to comply with” Section 1373.

         The Executive Order aims to prevent certain jurisdictions from receiving federal funds if they fail to comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1373. In relevant part, Section 1373 provides:

Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

8 U.S.C. § 1373(a). Section 1373 makes no mention of federal funds, as either conditions of compliance or as consequences of violation.

         B. The Cities' Policies

         Both Seattle and Portland (“Plaintiffs” or “Cities”) pride themselves on their status as welcoming and internationally minded cities. Dkt. # 27 (FAC) at ¶¶ 21, 22, 36. To this end, Seattle enacted Ordinance 121063, “which provides that . . . unless otherwise required by law or by court order, ‘no Seattle City officer or employee shall inquire into the immigration status of any person, or engage in activities designed to ascertain the immigration status of any person.'” Id. at ¶ 25 (quoting Seattle Mun. Code § 4.18.015(A)). In addition, the Seattle Police Department Manual explains that “[b]eing an undocumented person in this country, barring any criminal activity, is a federal civil violation not enforced by the Seattle Police Department.” Id. at ¶ 31 (citing Seattle Police Dep't Manual § 6.020). The Seattle Police Department will not enforce federal laws relating to illegal entry and residence, leaving such enforcement responsibility to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Id.

         Portland enacted similar ordinances. For example, ORS 181A.820 “prohibits state and local law enforcement from using moneys, equipment, or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Id. at ¶ 37 (quotations omitted). Portland also adopted City Resolution 37277, which states that “the City will continue to, in a manner consistent with state and federal law, prohibit the use of City funds, personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration law.” Id. at ¶ 41 (quotations omitted). Portland's Police Department “will not assist ICE unless a crime is committed or in case of an emergency.” Id. at ¶ 40.

         C. The Cities' Federal Funding

         Both Seattle and Portland rely heavily on federal funds for their operating budgets. For fiscal year 2017, Seattle has an operating budget of $5.71 billion, of which $55 million is derived from federal funds. Id. at ¶ 61. In addition, “[t]he federal government is contributing over $99 million in [multi-year capital funds] to Seattle in 2017.” Id. “Between both capital and operating funds, [Seattle] will receive over $155 million from the federal government in 2017.” Id. Much of the federal funding is provided to Seattle on a reimbursable basis for essential programs. Id. at ¶ 62.

         For the 2016-17 fiscal year, Portland had an operating budget of $4.1 billion. Id. at ¶ 83. Portland expects to receive nearly $49 million in federal funds. Id. Similar to Seattle, much of Portland's funding is provided on a reimbursable basis. Id. at ¶ 84. Many of those funds are used for essential programs. Id. at ¶ 85.

         D. Public Statements by the Government

         On May 31, 2016, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a memorandum in which he found that “policies prohibiting local officials from sharing information with the federal government are ‘inconsistent with plain language of Section 1373.'” Id. at ¶ 98 (citations omitted). The Inspector General further found that cities may violate Section 1373 even if such policies do not exist but where “‘actions of local officials result in prohibitions or restrictions' on information-sharing.” Id. at ¶ 99 (citations omitted). However, he confirmed that Section 1373 did not require cities to disclose immigration status information or cooperate in any other way with ICE. Id. at ¶¶ 98, 101, 103.

         The President, both during his campaign and since his election, has made comments evidencing his desire to deny funding to sanctuary cities. Id. at ¶ 129 (saying he “would withhold federal funds to punish so-called sanctuary cities.”). The President specifically referred to Seattle as a sanctuary city, and said that “sanctuary cities are out . . . sanctuary cities are over.” Id. at ¶¶ 131, 132. The President has been clear that his interpretation of ending sanctuary cities means defunding those cities. Id. at ¶ 135.

         The President's press secretary “insisted that ‘the President is going to do everything he can within the scope of the executive order to make sure that cities who don't comply with it-counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cities don't get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'” Id. at ¶ 138 (citations omitted). The press secretary further stated that the Government would “strip federal grant money from sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants.” Id.

         The Attorney General urged Congress to pass legislation that would “cut off relevant federal monies to sanctuary cities.” Id. at ¶ 139. During a White House Press Briefing, the Attorney General clarified that “jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants [need to] certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.” Id. at ¶ 140.

         For several years, the Government has recorded jurisdictions “that fail to comply with federal requests for assistance in enforcing the immigration laws.” Id. at ¶ 142. Seattle often appears in these records “as a jurisdiction with a ‘sanctuary policy.'” Id. (citations and alternation omitted). Similarly, counties in Oregon, including ones associated with Portland, have been defined as “jurisdictions that refuse cooperation with federal immigration authorities[.]” Id. at ¶¶ 144, 145.

         E. ...

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