Bay Area cities fighting Trump's sanctuary city order get surprise in court

Saturday, April 15, 2017
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Protesters sounded off in San Francisco as a federal judge heard arguments for the first time on local lawsuits over President Donald Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities Friday morning.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Bay Area cities fighting against President Donald Trump's plan to withhold funds from sanctuary cities got a surprise in court today.

Attorneys for San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties were in court seeking an injunction to block Trump's executive order claiming more than $1 billion dollars in federal money for each of them is at stake.

RELATED: Protesters gather as arguments on sanctuary city order heard in SF

But, Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler made a completely different argument in court.

He said the executive order was narrowly focused, and only affect grants to cities from the Justice Department and Homeland Security - at most $1 million for Santa Clara County, and no money at all for San Francisco.

RELATED: Santa Clara County asks federal judge to stop Trump's sanctuary city order

Government attorneys would not go on camera, but U.C. Hastings Professor David Levine says the feds were walking a fine line. "The justice department seemed to be saying, well we're not doing anything to them right now, so what's the need for any litigation right now, we're all friends," Levine said.

"It was an attempt to bully jurisdictions like San Francisco and Santa Clara into abandoning their sanctuary city status through the use of an unconstitutional executive order," Mollie Lee with the San Francisco City Attorney's Office said.

RELATED: San Leandro declares itself a sanctuary city

To read the latest stories about sanctuary cities and immigration, click here.