Second US judge blocks Trump from ending DACA program

(Reuters) - A second U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump's decision to end a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, cannot end in March as planned, a victory for state attorneys general and immigrants who sued the Republican administration.

The decision is similar to an earlier ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that DACA must remain in place while litigation over Trump's decision unfolds. The legal battle over DACA could complicate a debate currently underway in Congress on whether to change the nation's immigration laws.

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The Supreme Court on Friday is due to consider whether to take up the administration's appeal of the San Francisco ruling. The court could announce as soon as Friday afternoon whether it is hearing the case.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Often called "Dreamers," hundreds of thousands of young adults, mostly Hispanics, have been granted protection from deportation and given work permits under DACA, which was created in 2012 under Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

The plaintiffs had argued that the administration violated federal law by cutting off a program that hundreds of people relied on with little explanation.

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In the ruling on Tuesday, Garaufis said the Trump administration could eventually rescind the DACA program. However, the reasons it gave last year for winding down the program were too arbitrary and could not stand, the judge said.

Garaufis ordered the government to process both initial requests for DACA status, as well as renewals, on the same terms as had been in place before the administration made its announcement last September.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)