May 18 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that a move to end a program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation is illegal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 2-1 Friday that the Department of Homeland Security illegally moved to end the program, which has approved nearly 800,000 immigrants, known as Dreamers, since its inception.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was created in 2012 under the Obama administration to provide a path to citizenship for certain immigrants. It defers deportation for two years on a renewable basis for individuals who meet eligibility requirements, including being under 16 when entering the country, school or military requirements, and criminal background checks.
The court found that President Donald Trump's administration's move to phase out the program in September 2017 violated the Administrative Procedure Act since it was "arbitrary and capricious."
The government had failed to "give a reasoned explanation for the change in policy, particularly given the significant," interests involved, according to the majority opinion written of Judge Albert Diaz and Judge Robert King. Judge Julius N. Richardson dissented, saying that the administration had the authority to decide to end the program.
The ruling reverses a decision by a lower court and is in line with other court rulings and a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding an injunction to allow DACA to stay in effect.
The Trump administration's decision to end the program is also being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.