A federal judge in NY ruled Tuesday that the government must restart the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty, adding more weight to the legal case against President Trump's phaseout of the program just as Congress is debating the fate of "Dreamers" on Capitol Hill.
It's the second time in less than two months that a US judge found the rescinding of the program as proposed would be wrong. He declined to extend the programme for new applicants.
Under the judge's order, the government is required to continue processing DACA renewal requests for people who already are enrolled in the program and those whose enrollment lapsed before September 5, 2017.
"The question before the court is thus not whether defendants could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so", Garaufis wrote in the order.
NY state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who leads a coalition of 17 attorneys general who sued to protect DACA and Dreamers, hailed Garaufis's decision as a "victory".
This week the Supreme Court is set to meet behind closed doors to discuss whether to take up the Trump administration's appeal of the related case.
Last month, Trump introduced a proposal that would put all 1.8 million young immigrants in question on a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for stiff cutbacks on overall immigration and funding for a massive wall on the United States border with Mexico. Alsup explained that the Department of Homeland Security's "decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise".
The legal battle over DACA complicates a debate now underway in Congress on whether to change the nation's immigration laws.
The judge says Trump's administration relied on an "erroneous" belief the programme was unconstitutional.
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Devin O'Malley, said the administration will hold to its argument that DACA as implemented by the Obama administration was an "unlawful circumvention of Congress".