California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday praised a ruling by a federal judge that blocks the Trump administration's decision to end protections for an estimated 700,000 young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
"This is a huge step forward," Becerra said at a morning news conference in Los Angeles.
Last year, President Trump ordered the end of the Obama-era program that allowed so-called Dreamers to obtain two-year permits to work and study in the United States. Becerra joined the attorneys general of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota — as well as other plaintiffs, including the University of California — in litigation to block the decision.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, must remain in place as the lawsuits proceed. California has more than 200,000 Dreamers, more than any other state.
"I've said from the very beginning that DACA was fully legal," Becerra said. "Now I'm more convinced that the courts will find that what Donald Trump and his administration did was not legal."
The development comes as the White House and lawmakers are wrangling over immigration reform, with Democrats demanding protections for Dreamers. Becerra said the federal judge's ruling should strengthen the Democrats' leverage at the negotiating table.
"Those who are against the Dreamers just lost in a big way," Becerra said.
Becerra, flanked by members of the legal team that has argued the case, said it remained up to Congress and the president to find a permanent solution, however.