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Immigration officials will continue to process renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because of court injunctions, the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday.
The announcement means the Trump administration will effectively carry out Obama-era policies that protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.
President Donald Trump last Septemeber had given Congress until Monday to fix what he said was a legal overreach by President Barack Obama to allow young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to remain and to work.
Congress missed the deadline, but two federal judges have issued injunctions this year barring the Trump administration from following through on its plan to phase out DACA.
The injunctions could remain in effect until the resolution of legal challenges to the administration's efforts.
DHS effectively had no choice but to comply with the court injunctions.
But the department's statement on Wednesday accepting that reality suggests that the DACA debate appears to be taking a backseat for the Trump administration while the cases play out.
That also seems to be true in the Republican-controlled Congress, where lawmakers have effectively shelved any potential immigration reform until after the November midterm elections.
"We note that the DACA protections currently in place due to a court injunction are the result of a likely unconstitutional exercise of executive authority and only good for two years at a time," Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton said Wednesday.
"We believe Congress should find a permanent solution for the DACA population and will continue to work with Congress to that end."
Houlton added that the Citizenship and Immigration Services "is accepting and adjudicating DACA requests for renewals as they are submitted."
"This process is in accordance with the longstanding DACA policies on renewals," the spokesman said. "USCIS is working expeditiously to review and process these requests consistent with previous DACA renewal timelines. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have not previously been granted deferred action under DACA."
He noted that a DACA designation is generally valid for two years and added that most DACA recipients "are not a priority or target group for arrest or removal."