A federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to end the immigrant program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The program offers protection for young adult immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children. It grants roughly 700,000 immigrants the right to work in the US without fear of being deported.
US District Judge John D. Bates for the District of Columbia said the decision to end the program was "arbitrary and capricious" and never fully explained.
The president has claimed that the program is being misused by a growing number of illegal immigrants. He asked Congress to come up with a solution but lawmakers have not taken action.
The judge also said the Department of Homeland Security failed to give an adequate rationale for why the program is unlawful.
"DACA's rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful," Bates wrote in his decision. "Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program."
He is giving the White House 90 days to justify canceling the program before his rule is implemented.
The move follows similar decisions by judges from New York and San Francisco.
Those judges ruled that the Trump administration must process renewal application for individuals already receiving protection. What makes this ruling different is that new applications by individuals who did not previously receive protection must now be processed.
"Each day that the agency delays is a day that aliens who might otherwise be eligible for initial grants of DACA benefits are exposed to removal because of an unlawful agency action," Bates wrote.