If Donald Trump's saber rattling over Sanctuary Cities moves forward, Portland stands to lose millions in federal grant money. Now, the city appears ready to battle the president in court.
Portland City Council on Wednesday will consider casting its lot with Seattle, which late last month filed suit against Trump, arguing an executive order the president signed five days after taking office is illegal. A resolution the council will take up would give the City Attorney's Office permission to join the suit.
The order Trump signed January 25 could strip tens of millions from Portland's coffers. The city received nearly $30 million in federal grants in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The executive order said that jurisdictions that "willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States" aren't eligible for federal grants "except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes" by federal officials.
Two months after Trump signed the order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions re-iterated on March 27 that the administration will seek to penalize cities and counties that don't help enforce immigration law. That announcement came five days after Portland leaders formally voted to label the city a sanctuary city (it was already one in practice). Even so, immigration enforcement has been particularly robust in the Portland region under Trump.
"The City of Portland is the recipient of millions of dollars of federal grants that could be jeopardized by Executive Order No. 13768 and, therefore, has a direct stake in the outcome of litigation challenging the legality of that Executive Order," reads the resolution council will take up.
Among Seattle's arguments in its suit are that Trump's order is unconstitutional because it attempts to coerce the city to help federal agents, and that that order is causing difficulties as Seattle tries to work up next year's budget. Those arguments might well be shared by Portland, which is in the teeth of the budget process.
The city's apparently got lawyers itching to help it sue Trump. According to an impact statement filed with the resolution, the City Attorney's Office "has received an offer of pro bono legal work on this matter from a highly reputable firm which can act as local counsel in the Western District of Washington, where the lawsuit has been brought." Given that, the city argues legal costs will be minimal.
Seattle, by the way, wasn't the first city to challenge the sanctuary city order. San Francisco filed suit days after Trump put pen to paper.
You can read the full Portland resolution here (pdf).