Our Work » Litigation » East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr

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Case Status: 

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 3:1-cv-04073-JST
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 19-16487 & 19-16773

What is the government doing and why are we challenging it? 

In July 2019 the administration issued the “third country transit ban” also called “Asylum Ban 2.0,” a rule that bars people entering at the southern border who traveled through a third country en route to the United States from applying for asylum. Because there are only very limited exceptions, the ban applies in practice to all non-Mexican asylum seekers. Since such a small number of asylum seekers enter through airports or the northern border, Asylum Ban 2.0 essentially eviscerates asylum protections for everyone entering after July 16, 2019. (Read about Asylum Ban 1.0 here.)

We are helping to challenge this ban because it is yet another action taken by the administration designed to end the U.S. asylum system in violation of U.S. and international law. This rule returns people to persecution.

What is at stake? 

Nearly every non-Mexican asylum seeker at the southern border is affected by this rule. In particular, almost all asylum seekers from Central America must travel by land to the U.S. southern border because they are not able to get a visa from the United States to travel here and cannot afford airfare. Asylum seekers from Guatemala must transit Mexico, and those coming from El Salvador and Honduras must travel through both Guatemala and Mexico. These countries are experiencing levels of violence comparable to that typically seen in war zones. In particular, violence against women has escalated dramatically in Central America, with those governments unable or unwilling to provide protection.

What’s the status of this case? 

On July 6, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s preliminary injunction in East Bay, 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. This injunction is on hold pending any review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who’s involved? 

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies is appearing as amicus (friend of the court) in this case in support of the plaintiffs, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. We have filed amicus briefs at all stages of the litigation, before the District Court, the Ninth Circuit, and the Supreme Court. Other organizations and individuals also filed amicus briefs, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, several states, several cities and counties, the asylum officers’ union, former national security officials, immigration law professors, and Kids in Need of Defense.

How can you help? 

Take the #WelcomeWithDignity pledge and join our movement to defend the right to seek asylum. You can support CGRS’s vital work on cases like this one by making a donation.

Need more information? 

Contact Brianna Krong, Communications and Advocacy Manager, at krongbrianna@uclawsf.edu.

Resources for Advocates 

CGRS has produced practice advisories and webinars to support advocates representing individuals subject to the third country transit ban, including guidance specific to children’s asylum claims. Click here to request the most recent advisories relevant to your client’s case.