A judge has blocked US President Donald Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that shields children brought to the United States illegally by their parents, crom being deported.
US district judge William Alsup ruled in San Francisco on Tuesday that the programme must “maintain the Daca program on a nationwide basis” while litigation over Trump’s decision unfolds.
Since it was authorised by former president Barack Obama in 2012, DACA has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants to work and go to school in the US without fear of deportation.
The Trump administration decided in September to rescind the programme, placing the fate of hundreds of thousands of the young immigrants – known as Dreamers – in the hands of Congress. The announcement prompted several states, organisations and individuals to file lawsuits.
The administration announced the decision on September 5, 2017 and said applicants had 30 days to respond. So while the programme has not expired yet – that will happen on March 5 – the deadline had passed to renew applications, thus sealing the applicants’ fate.
In his ruling, Alsup wrote that previous recipients of DACA protections who failed to register by the deadline must be allowed to renew their status in the programme. However, he said the federal government did not have to process new applications from people who had never before received protection under the programme.
The ruling comes while Trump and US congressional leaders are embroiled in a tense negotiation over how to protect the young immigrants.
If the court order stands, it could ease some of the pressure on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to find a legislative solution before the programme ends.
Earlier on Tuesday Trump convened a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers at the White House to discuss the fate of the Dreamers. He expressed sympathy for their plight and called on lawmakers to craft a “bill of love” that would enshrine the Daca permanently and offer the young immigrants an eventual path to US citizenship.