A U.S. court of appeal in San Fransisco on Wednesday declared "unconstitutional" an executive order of U.S. President Donald Trump to deny federal funding of sanctuary cities including San Francisco earlier this year.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2-1 decision that Trump had acted unconstitutionally to withhold funding from the "sanctuary cities" that refused to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
"Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals," Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote in a majority opinion.
The United States Constitution exclusively grants the power of the purse to Congress, not the president, he said in the ruling.
The ruling came in lawsuits filed by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara, which had openly voiced their refusal to grant information or cooperation to federal immigrations agents in cracking down on operations against illegal immigrants in California state that declared itself "a sanctuary state."
U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued an injunction in November to block Trump's executive order to cut off funding to sanctuary cities. Both San Francisco and Santa Clara receive more than 1 billion U.S. dollars a year in federal funds.
Trump's administration has filed a lawsuit against California for protecting immigrants in the country illegally.
California passed a statewide sanctuary policy that took effect in 2018, and cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia have adopted them.
Sanctuary cities have claimed that having local police cooperate with federal immigration forces would scare away people in reporting crime to law-enforcing agencies.