“Dreamers” were thrown a temporary lifeline Tuesday when a Californian federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration’s decision to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Judge William Alsup ruled in San Francisco that the program, which shields young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation, must be maintained as the legal battle over the scheme continues.
DACA was created under the Obama administration in 2012, and has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants to work and attend school without the threat of deportation. However, President Donald Trump announced in September he was scrapping the program, arguing it represented an unconstitutional overreach of power by his predecessor.
The judge’s ruling stemmed from one of the many legal challenges to the Trump’s decision, this one brought by the University of California and others.
Judge Alsup said the administration’s argument that DACA was illegal was based on a “flawed legal premise.”
The judgment means previous Dreamers who failed to reapply by an October 5 deadline must be able to renew their status, although the government still won’t be required to accept applications from people who haven’t applied previously.
The ultimate effect of the ruling, which could be halted by a higher court, remains unclear. The fate of the Dreamers is currently the subject of fierce debate in Washington, where Republicans and Democrats announced Tuesday they would work together on an immigration bill addressing DACA, border security, the visa lottery system and other issues.
Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for immigrants’ rights, said in a statement that while the decision was a relief, Dreamers were owed more clear-cut protection from Congress.
“Dreamers — and our nation — deserve more than temporary relief from the courts; they deserve a bipartisan Dream Act,” she said. “It’s time for Congress to get it done.”