A US appeals court in California has ruled that President Donald Trump‘s administration must continue an Obama-era programme shielding young immigrants from deportation.
The decision by the San Francisco-based ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals preserves the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme introduced in 2012 that has shielded a group of undocumented immigrants dubbed “Dreamers” from deportation and given them work permits, though not a path to citizenship.
The three-judge panel rejected the administration’s claim that the decision to end DACA was not reviewable by the courts.
“And, upon review, we conclude that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA – at least as justified on this record – is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote.
The ruling represented another legal defeat for Trump over DACA, although he has won court victories on other parts of his hard line immigration policies.
On Monday, his administration asked the US Supreme Court to review a federal judge’s January decision to block Trump from ending the programme even before the ninth Circuit had weighed in, an unusually aggressive move in terms of procedure.
Responding to the court decision, United We Dream Action, a grassroots campaign for Dreamers called on Congress to defund deportation agencies in response to the ruling.
“We’ve always known: Trump’s decision to kill #DACA was wrong and that his sole motivation was to deport 800,000 people of color.” The organisation wrote on Twitter.
— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) November 8, 2018
In a post on Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “DACA is and will always be constitutional.”
Trump said on Wednesday that he saw potential to work with Democrats, who won control of the House of Representatives this week, but he would have to see how the Supreme Court rules on the issue.
Trump has taken a stern stance against illegal immigration. His administration announced plans in September 2017 to phase out DACA, arguing that Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he bypassed Congress and created the programme. DACA offers protections to roughly 700,000 young adults, mostly Hispanics, who entered the country as children.
San Francisco-based US District Judge William Alsup decided in January the government must continue processing renewals of existing DACA applications while litigation over the legality of Trump’s action is resolved. The administration in February unsuccessfully appealed Alsup’s ruling to the Supreme Court.