Washington-based Georgetown University, a prominent Catholic institution with strong ties to Pope Francis, Wednesday said it would lead the legal battle against President Trump's bid to end illegal immigration, limit refugee entries, and starve "sanctuary cities" of federal dollars.

The university said that its law school was creating a special institute packed with high-power lawyers with a long track record of federal court victories to battle the administration on several high-profile issues, many focused on the poor.

Pope Francis pictured in the Georgetown Hoya.

The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law said in a statement that it will use its effort to "teach students to use the power of the courts to defend U.S. constitutional rights and values."

Among the targets listed:

  • Immigration restrictions.
  • Religious discrimination.
  • Free expression and privacy protection.
  • National security.
  • Whistleblower protection.

It already plans to fight Texas' war on sanctuaries, saying, "The Institute is also supporting key plaintiffs in another Texas case, City of El Cenizo v. Texas, which challenges a new state law that seeks to counter sanctuary city policies. The law, currently scheduled to take effect on September 1, purports to make it a crime for police and other public agencies to pursue an approach to enforcing federal immigration law contrary to that officially endorsed by the State of Texas, even if they believe it is in the best interest of public safety."

The effort follows the pope's criticism of Trump's immigration plans and his support for refugees and sanctuaries. The first Jesuit pope has visited with Georgetown staffers in Rome.

See here for the list of top lawyers involved and more details of the Institute's plans.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com