Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. Pool photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 14 (UPI) -- A federal judge ruled Saturday that Department of Homeland Security director Chad Wolf was not legally serving in his role when he signed rules limiting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications and renewals -- and that those rules are therefore invalid.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis said court conferences would be held to work out the details of the ruling when he attempted to suspend Obama-era protections for people brought to the United States illegally as children.
In July Wolf issued a memo saying the United States wouldn't accept new applications for the DACA program, which shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The memo also limited renewals to one year instead of two.
The Supreme Court had already blocked a Trump administration attempt to end the program entirely.
Saturday's ruling could be subject to appeal, should the federal government decide to do so.
Wolf has been serving as head of DHS on an interim basis since November 2019.
President Donald Trump formally nominated Wolf for the role in August. In September the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted to move Wolf's nomination forward, but a floor vote has not been scheduled.
The Trump administration has pushed to get Wolf confirmed before Inauguration Day.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report in August saying Wolf's appointment was not legally valid.
Karen Tumlin, director of the Los Angeles-based Justice Action Center and an attorney on the case, said the ruling applies to more than a million people.
"This is really a hopeful day for a lot of young people across the country," Tumlin said.