SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration should not deport illegal immigrants brought into the country as children.
This is the second time in two months that a federal judge has blocked Trump's attempt to end an Obama-era program that protected undocumented immigrants.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an injunction that blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrants brought into the United States during their childhood.
The latest federal court ruling followed a similar one handed down last month by San Francisco District Court judge William Alsup.
"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. Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that defendants have not done so," Garaufis said.
Trump last September issued an executive order to end the DACA program on March 5 this year.
LEGAL BATTLE OVER DACA COMPLICATES SENATE DEBATE
Garaufis's ruling came in lawsuits brought by immigration rights groups and 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
However, the legal battle over DACA will complicate a Senate debate currently underway on whether to change the country's immigration law.
The Senate opened a rare debate on Monday that could determine the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants, many of them in California.
Trump has agreed to support a path to citizenship for about 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants protected under DACA from deportation.
In exchange, Trump wants Democrats to back his plan to build a 700 mile (about 1,125 km) long border wall between the United States and Mexico.
He has also pressed for the termination of a visa lottery for countries that send relatively few immigrants to the United States, and for ending a family-based immigration scheme in the future.
Many Republicans back Trump's plan to offer citizenship to millions of young undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as minors, who are often called Dreamers.
Democrats want to protect the Dreamers but refused to clamp down on legal immigration.
It's not easy for any measure to pass the Senate, which will need a 60-vote supermajority or bipartisan support.
IMMIGRATION RIGHTS GROUPS HAIL TUESDAY'S RULING
The National Immigration Law Center, a rights group whose mission is "to defend and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants," said Tuesday's ruling was "a victory for our plaintiffs."
"Victory for our plaintiffs! A federal court has issued a second order to #ProtectDreamers nationwide. Two federal courts have now determined that @realDonaldTrump's termination of DACA was unlawful," it tweeted.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman also said on his Twitter account that he will continue to protect the Dreamers.
"No matter what happens in Washington, the coalition of 17 AGs that I lead will continue to fight for you. #DefendDACA," he said.
"We will keep working to keep Dreamers safe," he said.
Another rights group, United We Dream, which claims to be the first and largest immigrant youth-led organization in the United States, praised the latest court order as a "Victory for our people!"
It vowed to use this momentum to continue urging Congress to pass "a clean Dream Act."
NEW RULING ON DACA OFFERS HOPE FOR DREAMERS
Tuesday's order on extending the protection status for Dreamers under the DACA program ushers in new hope for undocumented immigrants who had feared deportation as a result of Trump's threat to terminate the Obama-era program.
Luis Cortes, an immigration attorney who is a DACA recipient himself in Seattle, Washington state, is helping a large number of Dreamers while fighting for his own legal status.
He came to the United States in 1989 from Mexico when he was about one year old. He became an undocumented immigrant when his father was deported in 2004.
He managed to graduate from a university in Washington state in 2013 and was granted a California law license in 2016 under a ruling by the Supreme Court of California, one of the sanctuary states that allowed undocumented immigrants to practice law.
"Having a temporary work permit that can expire or be taken away is very scary. It's a very uncertain way to live. No one chooses to be like this," he told local media.
"I hope they see that this is something much larger than themselves," he said of the ongoing legal battle over DACA in Congress.
A 22-year-old DACA recipient named Yuridia Queer told a rights campaign group that it was the DACA program that encouraged her to report her story of sexual abuse to the police.
"It wasn't until I had DACA that I felt human enough to walk into a police station and report my abuser," she said.
"With the Dream Act, it would mean a whole different life. No more silence on any identity," she said.