Immigrant rights group CASA de Maryland asked a federal judge Thursday to halt the roll-back of protections for young immigrants put in place by the Obama administration.
Thursday is the deadline for people who have benefited from the program, known as DACA, to reapply for an additional two years of the protections before it ends in March.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, CASA and a coalition of organizations said President Donald Trump didn't follow proper procedures in moving to end the program and was motivated by racism toward Mexicans and Central Americans.
CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres said in a statement that the way the program was ended was "inhumane and arbitrary."
Torres said the move was "one more manifestation of the racist tactics this administration has implemented to target, dehumanize and deport immigrants."
The program shielded immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States as children by their parents without authorization. It halted deportation for the group, estimated to be some 800,000 people, and allowed them to apply for work permits.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the winding down of DACA in September, calling it an unconstitutional exercise of power by the previous administration.
"If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach," Sessions said.
Several lawsuits similar to the one CASA filed Thursday are challenging the government's move.