A federal judge on Thursday preserved the path for Texas to challenge the 2012 deportation amnesty for Dreamers, delivering a blow to immigrant-rights advocates who had hoped to short-circuit the case.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen agreed to put the case on hold until Sept. 5.
While seemingly innocuous, the ruling heaps pressure on President Trump, who now must decide whether to defend the controversial Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals amnesty, known as DACA, or to drop the defense, which could pave the way for a phase-out of the amnesty.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had given Mr. Trump a Sept. 5 deadline to announce a decision, and the judge’s order on Thursday preserves that timetable.
DACA is the program President Obama announced in 2012 to grant a tentative deportation amnesty to young adult illegal immigrants known as Dreamers, who usually were brought to the U.S. as children and were seen as the most sympathetic figures in the debate. Nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants currently are protected under DACA.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump had vowed to nix the program, calling it illegal, and early in his presidential term his administration had a draft executive order to do so, but he never issued it.
Instead, his administration has continued the program, approving tens of thousands of new and renewal applications.
Still, experts have long said that DACA is on tenuous legal ground, particularly after the courts invalidated a broader 2014 Obama amnesty that was drafted on the same grounds as DACA.
Immigrant-rights groups have pleaded with Mr. Trump to defend DACA anyway, and have vowed political retribution if he does not.
Mr. Trump has said he will make the decision himself about whether to maintain the program and brave the legal obstacles.