Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Transit Ban as it Violates Asylum Law

San Francisco, CA (July 6, 2020) –A federal appeals court has upheld a block on the Trump administration’s attempt to make individuals who traveled through a third country on the way to the United States before arriving at the southern border ineligible for asylum, with very limited exceptions. The lawsuit, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr, was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) and Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR).

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled the transit ban violates U.S. asylum law and is arbitrary and capricious. A stay of the injunction by the Supreme Court is currently in place. Last week, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., ruled against the ban on narrower procedural grounds. That ruling is not covered by the Supreme Court stay.

The following are reactions to today’s ruling:

Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, said: “This ruling further confirms the illegality of the myriad schemes the Trump administration has employed to undermine and ultimately destroy our asylum system. While this decision offers hope to many individuals and families who would otherwise have been deemed ineligible for asylum, far too many obstacles remain as this administration’s contempt for asylum seekers appears to know no bounds.”

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the appeal, said: “The court recognized the grave danger facing asylum seekers and blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to make an end-run around asylum protections enacted by Congress.”

Due to the level of interest in the case the Ninth Circuit created a special PRESS page – where one access pleadings and listen to the oral argument  HERE.

The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at hastings Applauds Ninth Circuit Decision Striking Down Transit BanThe Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) applauds today’s Ninth Circuit ruling in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr, striking down the Trump Administration’s third country transit ban. Introduced by the Administration nearly one year ago, the transit ban has created a new bar to asylum for those who pass through any third country en route to the United States, closing the door to virtually all non-Mexican asylum seekers arriving at our southern border. Last fall CGRS led dozens of organizations in an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the Ninth Circuit to restore the district court’s preliminary injunction in East Bay and block this cruel and unlawful policy from taking effect.

Today the Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction, correctly recognizing that the fact that an asylum seeker has travelled through multiple countries on their journey does not undermine the legitimacy of their claim for protection. Importantly, the court acknowledged that Mexico and Guatemala, countries that many migrants pass through en route to the U.S. border, are very dangerous places for asylum seekers, and that the Trump Administration failed to take this reality into account when it crafted the transit ban. The Ninth Circuit also held that by providing no exemption to the ban for unaccompanied children, the Administration failed to address this population’s unique vulnerability. The court reaffirmed that the special protections Congress has mandated for unaccompanied children must be upheld in our asylum policies.

“In the last week, two federal courts have ruled that the transit ban is illegal, correctly holding that the policy violates our immigration laws and calling out the Administration’s attempt to bypass the legally required notice and comment period.” CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey said today. “While the injunction in East Bay remains on hold pending any review by the U.S. Supreme Court, these decisions give us hope that, ultimately, this dangerous policy will be consigned to the ash heap of history for good.”

Due to the level of interest in the case the Ninth Circuit created a special PRESS page – where one access pleadings and listen to the oral argument  HERE.

By Melanie Nathan
African Human Rights Coalition
Executive Director
Blog: Oblogdee.Blog
pronouns: she / her / hers

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