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White House Says Judge's Temporary Block On Removing DACA Is 'Outrageous'


President Trump is again clashing with the courts over immigration. This time it's over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The White House vows to fight what it calls an outrageous ruling by a federal judge in California. That order temporarily blocks his administration from ending DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation. Their future is the subject of a lot of debate in Washington, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: It's been a year of lows and highs for the so-called DREAMers. In September, the Trump administration announced its plans to phase out DACA, the Obama-era program that allows nearly 700,000 of them to live and work legally in the U.S. Now a court in California says, not so fast.

XAVIER BECERRA: You can fight city hall or the Oval Office. And if you do it the right way, in this country at least, you can win.

ROSE: That's California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. His office brought the case along with the University of California and other plaintiffs. They argued the administration acted arbitrarily when it decided to kill DACA. The judge said that argument was likely to prevail. Every week, hundreds of DACA recipients are losing their status as the program winds down. Adrian Reyna says a permanent fix is needed. He's an activist with the group United We Dream and a DACA recipient himself.

ADRIAN REYNA: Don't let anyone tell you that the urgency to get this done is not real. That clock is ticking. People have already lost protection and are living without protection.

ROSE: The judge ordered the administration to allow DACA recipients to renew their status. The order is only a temporary injunction. The judge didn't decide the merits of the case. While this case plays out in the courts, there's another debate over DACA happening on Capitol Hill. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra hopes lawmakers will finally end the uncertainty around DACA.

BECERRA: It is time for Congress to give us a lasting solution that will leave no doubt that the DREAMers are Americans and that they are here to stay.

ROSE: The Department of Justice says it will vigorously defend its decision to end DACA. The department argues the program was an unconstitutional overreach by the Obama administration and that Congress should make immigration policy. The Trump administration could accelerate that legal fight and appeal directly to the Supreme Court as it did in the battle over the president's travel ban executive orders. But this legal battle is not the only thing that could complicate delicate negotiations on the Hill. It was just yesterday that President Trump hosted lawmakers from both parties at the White House and said he would sign any DACA bill that they sent him. Today Trump says the bill must include funding for a border wall.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in.

ROSE: Hard-liners in Congress and the White House want other changes to the legal immigration system that could also alienate Democrats. On the other side, the White House risks angering Trump's base if it grants a path to citizenship for the DREAMers.


ANN COULTER: This is a disaster. It was the lowest day of his presidency.

ROSE: Here's conservative commentator Ann Coulter speaking with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs after yesterday's meeting with Congressional leaders.


COULTER: His only hope is to be pedal to the metal, fulfill his promises, build the wall, end chain migration...


COULTER: ...And deport these DREAMers who are the worst of the illegals.

ROSE: Congress could act as early as next week or punt again, leaving the future of the DREAMers once again up in the air. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.