(CNN) — A federal judge on Friday hinted he will likely invalidate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the future — but for now the program can continue to operate.

Texas-based District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote Friday that he believes DACA is likely illegal and ultimately will fail to survive a challenge before his court.

DACA is an Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.

But despite that — and despite finding that the continuation of DACA could harm the eight states and two governors who challenged the program — Hanen decided not to issue a ruling that would have immediately blocked DACA’s continuation.

Hanen said that there were two issues with the request: One was timeliness.

He found that because Texas and its coalition of states waited more than five years after the implementation of DACA, even as it challenged a related program, that it lost some of its ability to claim damages were immediately harmful and required an immediate response.

In addition, Hanen ruled that though the states could prove they were harmed by the continuation of DACA, mainly in costs of benefits to recipients, the potential consequences of ending DACA immediately were more harmful.

Three federal judges have blocked the administration from ending DACA as it tried to do last September, ordering the Department of Homeland Security to continue renewing permits under the program.

But Hanen was widely expected to be unfavorable to DACA, as he had previously prevented a similar, expanded program from ever going into effect under the Obama administration.

The new case challenging the DACA program, instituted in 2012, drew heavily from that decision Hanen made on the 2014 expansion of the program and creation of a similar program for undocumented parents of Americans.

Hanen said in his Friday ruling that he largely agreed, and DACA was likely to be illegal under the same reasoning as that expansion.

But one major difference prevented him from immediately halting the program — the fact that it was already in effect.

“Here, the egg has been scrambled,” Hanen wrote. “To try to put it back in the shell with only a preliminary injunction record, and perhaps at great risk to many, does not make sense nor serve the best interests of this country.”

This story is breaking news and will be updated.

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