Hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were facing deportation from the US can now breath a sigh of relief following Wednesday's ruling by a federal judge in California.
In his ruling, US District Judge Edward Chen temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending Temporary Protected Status, commonly referred to as TPS, for more than 300,000 immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua.
The judge barred the government from terminating TPS pending the hearing and determination of a case challenging the move to eliminate the immigrants' protections.
TPS is a program that protects migrants in the US from countries affected by dire conditions such as epidemics, war or natural disaster. Trump administration is seeking to end protection for majority of immigrants under the program on grounds that initial conditions that necessitated them no longer exist.
TPS recipients from Sudan, who had less than a month before losing their protections have welcomed the latest ruling.
"I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it," said Salma Ahmed, a 21-year-old, who was born in Sudan and has lived in the US since she was 2.
"My hopes just got higher and higher. I wasn't expecting it right now, but this is good."
Immigrants under the program filed a lawsuit in March challenging government's move to end TPS for Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua, arguing that the administration terminated the protections as a result of a predetermined agenda that violated the law.
In his ruling, judge Chen said there is evidence that the government may have violated the Constitution when it terminated TPS.
"There is also evidence that this may have been done in order to implement and justify a pre-ordained result desired by the White House. Plaintiffs have also raised serious questions whether the actions taken by the Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by the White House and based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution," Chen wrote. "The issues are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo."
In a statement, the State Department of the Justice faulted Chen's ruling saying that it " usurps the role of executive in out constitution. "
"The Court's decision usurps the role of the executive branch in our constitutional order," Department of Justice spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement.
"The Court contends that the duly elected President of the United States cannot be involved in matters deciding the safety and security of our nation's citizens or in the enforcement of our immigration laws," the statement said.
"The Justice Department completely rejects the notion that the White House or the Department of Homeland Security did anything improper. We will continue to fight for the integrity of our immigration laws and our national security."