NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge says an appeals court can decide if presidential campaign statements can be used to prove racial animus led to a decision to end a program sparing many young immigrants from deportation.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said Monday the Manhattan federal appeals court can rule whether immigration rights groups and others can try to prove President Donald Trump's campaign trail statements fueled the program's end.

The judge ruled in February the Republican president has the power to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but relied on flawed legal positions in doing so. That ruling came in lawsuits brought by immigration rights groups and 15 states and the District of Columbia.

The Department of Justice calls the program an "unlawful circumvention of Congress."

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