A federal judge in San Francisco on Tuesday barred the Trump administration from turning back the Obama-era DACA program, which shielded more than 700,000 people from deportation, Reuters reported, citing the judge’s ruling.
Trump last year ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He gave Congress until March to find a fix.
Starting in March, young people protected under DACA were to lose their protections under the program.
Trump said he was willing to be flexible in finding an agreement as Democrats warned that the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants hung in the balance.
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said during a Cabinet Room meeting with a bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers.
The Reuters report said U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the program must stay intact during litigation.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Trump appeared optimistic that Congress could reach a decision on the program.
Trump ended DACA in September. Immigration advocates estimate that more than 100 people a day lose the protected status because they did not renew their permits before the deadline, The Journal reported.
Trump is using border security—including a border wall– as a bargaining chip and Democrats want to use their sway on the spending bill to protect immigrants under DACA.
The plaintiffs in the suit included, among others, attorneys general from California, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and the University of California
Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, filed a motion seeking the preliminary injunction in November, saying that the move is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and causes “irreparable” harm to DACA recipients.
Becerra said in a statement late Tuesday that the ruling is a “huge step in the right direction.”
“America is and has been home to Dreamers who courageously came forward, applied for DACA and did everything the federal government asked of them,” he said. “They followed DACA’s rules, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report