CGRS Applauds Ninth Circuit Decision Striking Down Transit Ban

Monday, July 6, 2020

The 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.”