A federal appeals court panel, which heard arguments in Pasadena in May, Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision blocking President Donald Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an immigration policy that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

In the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, Judge Kim Wardlaw wrote that the Department of Homeland Security’s determination that DACA was illegal from its inception, and therefore had to be discontinued, is “incorrect.”

“Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA — at least as justified on this record — is arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law,” Wardlaw wrote for the three-member panel.

The Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, which has five conservative justices with the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it would end DACA the following March unless Congress passed legislation to save the program. But in January, a judge in San Francisco determined that the policy must remain in place while litigation is resolved and ordered the government to continue processing renewal applications from people who had previously been covered.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, among plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the administration’s attempt to rescind DACA, applauded the appellate panel’s decision Thursday.

“In California and across our nation, Dreamers significantly enrich our communities as scholars, entrepreneurs, first responders and much more,” he said. “This fight, of course, is far from over. We will continue to defend Dreamers and DACA all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

The University of California, also among plaintiffs in the suit, issued a statement saying the decision “ensures that the 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA will be able to retain or renew their grants and continue to legally work, study, serve in the military, and live in the United States.”

UC officials encouraged all eligible recipients to renew their DACA grants immediately.

When the appeals panel heard arguments in the spring, a government lawyer argued that the Trump administration can end DACA without court review and that the program is an example of unconstitutional executive lawmaking. DACA was created by DHS through an executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012.

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