US District Judge Kari Brandenburg has granted a temporary stay of deportation for six DACA recipients and their parents.
The decision follows a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several civil rights groups.
A ruling is expected on the stay next week.
Brandenburg made the decision on Friday after a hearing with the Department of Justice, according to a court transcript.
“This case was one that we considered as being extremely complex, and this was a case where we felt that there was some risk of losing the case on procedural grounds, so we have stayed the stay,” said the judge, who had asked for a briefing before making her ruling.
The six DACA applicants were arrested in 2014 for violating the terms of their deferred action agreements, which allow them to stay in the country if they meet certain requirements.
They were convicted of murder, aggravated kidnapping and attempted murder and face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“The DACA program is a key part of the US immigration system, and the President’s executive action to grant deferred action to DACA recipients is clearly unconstitutional,” said ACLU legal director Michelle Richardson.
The plaintiffs were convicted by federal prosecutors in San Francisco of conspiracy to commit murder.
They are all adults with no previous criminal history.
The DACA program provides legal protection to some 1.4 million people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
It grants them work permits, a temporary deferral from deportation and work authorization.
The government has asked the Supreme Court to review the case, but Brandenburg said she would not be bound by the lower court’s ruling.
“I do not agree with the judge’s conclusion that this case is not likely to succeed on procedural or constitutional grounds,” Richardson said.
If the court were to affirm the stay of removal order and the stay is granted, then we will appeal this ruling to the Supreme and to the Court of Appeals.”