With a March 5 deadline to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program quickly approaching, Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled it can not end nationwide based on current arbitrary arguments proposed for its cease.
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. He noted that the plan was based in part on the "plainly incorrect factual premise" that the program was illegal.
"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", wrote Judge Garaufis, a Clinton appointee to the court in NY.
"First, the decision to end the DACA program appears to rest exclusively on a legal conclusion that the program was unconstitutional and violated the [Administrative Procedure Act] and [Immigration and Nationality Act]", Garaufis wrote. "The court concludes that defendants have not done so". He's also been making DACA related headlines prior to this, chastising people who support the end of the program and being quoted as saying, "You can't come into court to espouse a position that is heartless".
Both immigrant-rights groups and homeland security officials said the new ruling has the same effect as the California judge's decision.
In September, Trump said he was scrapping the DACA program but delayed enforcement to give Congress six months - until March - to craft a lasting solution for the program recipients, informally known as "Dreamers".
In a preliminary ruling, he ordered the government to keep processing DACA applications and renewal requests, echoing the January 9 ruling of a judge in San Francisco.
These two injunctions, plus heavy resistance from Democrats, could keep the program running past Trump's March 5 deadline.
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".
The legal battle over DACA complicates a debate now underway in Congress on whether to change the nation's immigration laws.