SEATTLE — Seattle is suing the federal government over President Donald Trump's executive order cracking down on so-called "sanctuary cities," Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.
The announcement comes two days after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice will turn up the pressure and withhold grants from "sanctuary" jurisdictions for not doing more to help the Trump administration capture and deport people living in the U.S. illegally.
Trump's Jan. 25 executive order said certain cities and other local governments "willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States."
Titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," the order said such jurisdictions "have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic."
It cited a federal law — U.S. Code Section 1373 — that covers the sharing of information between local governments and federal immigration authorities.
And it warned, far in advance of Sessions' comments this week, that jurisdictions violating that law would be cut off from all federal grants.
Trump is waging "war on cities," Murray said during Wednesday's announcement of the lawsuit.
The "sanctuary" label is unofficial. It isn't a legal term with a single, agreed-upon definition.
Broadly, people use it to describe jurisdictions with policies and practices that limit local involvement in immigration enforcement.
For example, Murray refers to Seattle as a sanctuary city because of an ordinance barring city employees from inquiring about a person's immigration status, with some exceptions.
Sessions on Monday took aim at jurisdictions that choose not to honor at least some requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold people in jail for possible immigration violations beyond when they would otherwise be released.
The executive order characterized sanctuary jurisdictions as jurisdictions that refuse to comply with U.S. Code Section 1373.
The order gave the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security the authority to designate a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction and instructed the attorney general to take action against such jurisdictions.
In suing the Trump administration, Seattle will argue the order violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution by attempting to make local governments enforce federal law, according to Murray's office.
The city also will argue the executive order violates the taxing and spending clause of the Constitution by holding hostage, for matters of immigration enforcement, funds not related to immigration enforcement, according to the mayor's office.
Though the Trump administration has yet to withhold grants from Seattle or take action against the city in any way, the city will argue it has standing to sue because the executive order has created uncertainty and made it impossible for Murray to draw up his next city budget, according to his office.