Richmond Sues President Trump Over Executive Order to Defund Sanctuary Cities - NBC Bay Area
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Richmond Sues President Trump Over Executive Order to Defund Sanctuary Cities

Earlier this year, Richmond became the first city to officially call for Trump's impeachment.



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    President Donald Trump signs a bill in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2017.

    The City of Richmond on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump's executive order yanking federal funding from so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions," essentially defined as territories that protect undocumented immigrants from some Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions. 

    The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, argues that the executive order violates the fourth and 10th amendments and is vague, among other complaints. Both U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly are also named in the suit. 

    During a press conference Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said the city is attempting to "protect public trust" by filing the suit, citing lines of communication between Richmond police and immigrant communities as being essential to overall safety. If undocumented immigrants fear deportation, they may be less likely to call police when they are witnesses or victims to crimes, he said.

    "We will not allow intimidation to disrupt our commitment to our residents and their safety," Butt said, backed by Police Chief Allwyn Brown. 

    Trump signed executive order 13768, titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," on January 25, only five days into his administration. If enforced, it would have drastic consequences for cities across the Bay Area, which depend heavily upon federal grants for a spate of essential programs. 

    In Richmond alone, approximately $77 million in federal funding goes toward affordable housing, education, job training, childcare, policing, and transportation programs. During the news conference, attorney Joseph Cotchett said the executive order would allow Trump to effectively gut those programs without a hearing or an appeal process, a move that he described as "devastating." 

    "This is an unprecedented abuse of federal power and is full of arrogance by Washington, D.C., to break up the trust of the people of Richmond and the public servants that represent them," Cotchett said. "This lawsuit was filed not just for Richmond, but on behalf of every little city not only in California, but across the nation."

    More than a quarter of Richmond residents were born in another country, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data. 

    Also at issue is the poor definition of "sanctuary jurisdiction," a term frequently used to describe territories where cooperation between ICE and local police is restricted, or ICE detainer requests are not honored. Because the definition varies depending on the city, Cotchett warned that the blustery business mogul could enforce the order on a whim, depending on which city was on the receiving end of his infamous and easily-provoked ire. 

    In Richmond, where sanctuary policies have been record since 1990, city staff and police are banned from working with ICE unless authorized by the city manager or police chief. Nearby cities, including El Cerrito and Martinez, passed similar resolutions earlier this month. 

    Contact Gillian Edevane through email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @GillianNBC.