A US federal appeals court rebuffed the administration of President Donald Trump on Thursday by keeping in force the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrant youth from deportation.
The ruling by a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, represents a blow to the administration, which had appealed against an injunction blocking Trump from ending DACA.
"We conclude that 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," the panel ruled.
Launched in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, DACA has benefited some 690,000 people.
Trump announced in September 2017 that he planned to end DACA, but a federal district court issued an injunction in January 2018 ordering the government to continue accepting applications for the program until the case is resolved.
The administration then appealed to the Supreme Court to rule on the matter, but the nine justices returned the case to the 9th Circuit.
Several other federal district courts have likewise issued injunctions required the government to maintain the DACA program.