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Federal judge blocks Trump administration from ending DACA

010918 Correll DACA pic
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in September the Trump administration was rescinding the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected illegal immigrants from deportation so long as they came to the U.S. as children. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from facing deportation if they meet certain qualifications.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is based in San Francisco, ordered the Trump administration to renew parts of the program and to start accepting renewal applications from those already part of the program while related lawsuits make their way through the legal system. However, the judge did not demand that new applications be accepted.

Alsup argued the administration’s assertion that DACA was unlawful appeared to be “based on a flawed legal premise.”

The ruling permits prior DACA recipients who did not renew their applications ahead of an Oct. 5 deadline the opportunity to submit renewal applications and demands the administration permit future applications that will expire to be renewed, provided the order isn’t halted by a higher court.

“Dreamers’ lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump Administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Tonight’s ruling is a huge step in the right direction. America is and has been home to Dreamers who courageously came forward, applied for DACA and did everything the federal government asked of them. They followed DACA’s rules, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America. We will fight at every turn for their rights and opportunities so they may continue to contribute to America.”

Becerra filed a motion in November 2017 seeking a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. California and other plaintiffs argued that scaling back the program will negatively impact those protected by DACA and the states and communities they are from.

DACA, which impacts more than 700,000 people, had been set to expire March 5 if Congress could not agree on a solution after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in September the Trump administration was rescinding the Obama-era program.

President Trump is working alongside congressional leaders to reach a potential solution to address the program’s protections, although it may mean stricter border security.

"As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval," the president tweeted earlier in the evening, referring to a meeting he had Tuesday with lawmakers.

The Justice Department now has the opportunity to seek a stay of Alsup's ruling from the 9th Circuit Court

DOJ spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement the judge's order "doesn't change the Department of Justice's position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens."

Adding that DACA was "an unlawful circumvention of Congress," O'Malley said the agency will continue to "vigorously defend" its position on "the rule of law" and "looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation."