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Federal judge says DACA can't end while lawsuit is pending

A federal judge in California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction Tuesday blocking the Trump administration's decision to phase out a program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The injunction by U.S. District Judge William Alsup says those protections must remain in place for nearly 690,000 immigrants already in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era program proceeds.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to terminate the program on Sept. 5 and said no renewal applications would be accepted after Oct. 5. Under the administration's plan, permits that expired starting March 5 could not be renewed.

But Alsup ruled that while the lawsuit is pending, anyone who had DACA status when the program was rescinded Sept. 5 can renew it, officials said.

The state of California filed the lawsuit, arguing that the Trump administration failed to follow the law in rescinding DACA and would cause irreparable harm to the state by forcing immigrants to leave jobs, drop out of school or potentially be deported.

Califonia is home to the largest group of DACA recipients, some 200,000 people.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra cheered the ruling Tuesday.

"It's an affirmation of the principle that no one is above the law," he said in a telephone interview. "We said it from the very beginning: Donald Trump and this administration did not follow the rules in trying to abandon the DACA program."

The Department of Justice did not immediately comment late Tuesday.

The administration's decision to terminate the program sparked an outcry from Democrats, moderate Republicans and a significant sector of the American public, and has triggered an intense battle in the White House and Congress over possible legislation to give DACA recipients the right to stay here permanently.

Author Information: Maria Sacchetti is the Post immigration reporter. She previously reported for The Boston Globe.