The Trump administration announced in September it would rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a decision that was challenged in multiple federal courts by a variety of Democratic state attorneys general, organizations and individuals.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled in San Francisco on Tuesday the program must remain in place while the litigation is resolved. The ruling could complicate negotiations between Trump and congressional leaders over immigration reform.
“Today’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts,” said the department’s spokesman Devin M. O’Malley. The department “will continue to vigorously defend this position,” he said.
Alsup’s decision follows a number of rulings by other U.S. judges seeking to rein in Trump’s immigration policies, including decisions that limited administration moves against sanctuary cities and narrowed the scope of a ban against travel from some Muslim-majority counties.
Nearly 700,000 young people, known as Dreamers, were protected from deportation and allowed to work legally under the DACA program as of September 2017, Alsup’s ruling said.
Alsup ruled that the federal government did not have to process new applications from people who had never before received protection under the program. However, he ordered the government to continue processing renewal applications from people who had previously been covered.
“DACA gave them a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce,” Alsup wrote. “Now, absent an injunction, they will slide back to the pre-DACA era and associated hardship.”
The plaintiffs were likely to succeed in arguing that the government’s decision to end DACA was arbitrary, Alsup ruled.