WASHINGTON — In the middle of a political fight about the program that shields from deportation young immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children, a federal judge in California late Tuesday issued a nationwide injunction ordering the Trump administration to start the program back up again.
President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, in 2012 to also give young immigrants the ability to work legally in the United States. President Donald Trump moved to end the program in September, saying that Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and an overreach of executive power.
That decision has set off a fierce debate in Washington as Democrats and Republicans spar over how to provide relief for about 800,000 immigrants who could face deportation when the program ends March 5. Trump met with lawmakers Tuesday in an hourlong televised meeting to begin negotiations.
But critics of the president’s decision to end the policy, including several states and organizations, had already sued, saying that shutting down the program was arbitrary and done without following the proper procedures.
One of the lead plaintiffs, Janet Napolitano, is the president of the University of California system but was the secretary of homeland security for Obama in 2012 and was an architect of the DACA program.
In his ruling, Alsup asserted that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security had long had the authority to grant the kind of temporary protections that formed the basis of the program.
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Devin O’Malley, said the ruling did not change the department’s stance.
“DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” he said. “As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DACA.”
The administration could appeal, seeking to prevent the injunction from taking effect.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.