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CHICAGO (WLS) — President Joe Biden said Saturday that the Justice Department intends to appeal a federal judge’s ruling deeming illegal an Obama-era program that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and he renewed his calls for Congress to create a permanent solution.

He said in a statement that Friday’s decision was “deeply disappointing,” and although the judge’s order did not affect those already covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, it “relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.”

RELATED: Federal judge orders end to DACA, current enrollees safe for now

The program has allowed thousands of young people who were brought illegally into the United States as children, or overstayed visas, to live, work and remain in the country. Many of the recipients, commonly known as “Dreamers,” have now been in the U.S. for a decade or longer.

However, right now, more than 600,000 people are enrolled in the DACA program.

While a recent court ruling will not impact current DACA participants, new applications, including those from the Chicago area, cannot be approved.

“I was just devastated because I was this close,” said 20-year-old Luis Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said his application to the DACA was nearing the finish line, but now the Romeoville resident’s future is up in the air.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen declaring the DACA program unlawful.

“The government has no legitimate interest in the continuation of an illegally implemented program,” the George W. Bush nominee in the southern district of Texas said.

“People who have DACA now are still protected from deportation. They still have their work permits and they can still renew their DACA,” explained Dred Tsao, senior policy counsel for ICIRR.

The ruling means thousands of new applicants cannot be approved, making the program benefits still beyond reach for undocumented immigrants, like Rodriguez, who said he came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 3 years old.

“I would be at peace, finally being able to work like legally and not being ashamed or like, kind of like, you know, doing kind of back door stuff,” Rodriguez said.

Former President Barack Obama, who created the DACA program in 2012, is also among those calling for federal legislation.

For now, current DACA recipients, like Elizabeth Cervantes, feel like they’re on a “roller coaster.”

“These up and downs really, really can be challenging,” she said. “It really can affect someone’s mental health.”

Rodriguez, on the other hand, is still hopeful.

“We need to do something and we need it now. We need citizenship for all,” he said.

But Texas and eight other states sued to halt DACA, arguing that President Barack Obama lacked the power to create the program because it circumvented Congress. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Houston agreed, and while his ruling left the program intact for existing recipients, it barred the government from approving any new applications.

In his statement, Biden urged Congress to move forward with legislation to permanently protect those covered by the program. “Only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve,” the president said.

RELATED: Living in limbo: DACA dreamers react to recent ruling

“I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency,” he said. “It is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”

The House approved legislation in March creating a pathway toward citizenship for those impacted, but the measure has stalled in the Senate. Immigration advocates hope to include a provision in sweeping budget legislation Democrats want to pass this year, but it’s unclear whether that language will survive.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7

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