A USA appeals court in California ruled on November 8 that President Donald Trump's administration must continue a program begun under former President Barack Obama that protects hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who were brought into the country illegally as children.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Thursday concurred with a federal district judge's decision from January that Trump lacked the authority to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, the Associated Press reported.
DACA is the 2012 program set up by President Obama that granted a tentative amnesty from deportation to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers - illegal immigrants who came to the U.S.as children, grew up here, and in many cases don't know their home countries.
Last year President Trump announced his intention to end DACA to avoid a lawsuit by Texas and other states.
During a hearing in May, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim Mooppan argued that the courts could not review the administration's decision to end DACA and defended the move against assertions that it was arbitrary and capricious. The district court determined that the merits of California's case were strong and that there would be immediate harm if the Administration's plan to terminate DACA were to proceed. He instead wants lawmakers to approve a permanent fix to the dreamer issue in a bill that also includes funding for the proposed wall on the US border with Mexico, along with terminating chain migration and the draft lottery program.
California, the most populous USA state, is a liberal bastion that is unfriendly political territory for Trump.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen questioned whether courts could intervene if they thought DACA was legal and disagreed with the administration's position that it wasn't.
One of the ninth circuit judges, Kim McLane Wardlaw, said the Obama administration did not overreach the executive branch's powers because it made the choice about how to direct deportation resources. "That is a perfectly rational thing to do".
Wardlaw said the Obama administration was within its powers to enact DACA because it had to make a choice about how to direct limited resources in deporting undocumented immigrants and chose to spare those who came as children, had not committed crimes and were students or in the military. The judges on the 9th Circuit panel appeared sceptical of the argument that the DACA decision was beyond the court's authority to review.
Trump's attempt to rescind the program was also initially blocked by judges from lower courts in Washington D.C. and NY.
Federal judges in NY and Washington also have ruled against Trump on DACA.