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Ninth Circuit Delivers Second Court Rebuke of Asylum Restrictions

Last month on July 6, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration's policy prohibiting asylum for migrants who pass through another country on the way to the U.S. is illegal. The policy required migrants traveling over land from El Salvador, Honduras, or other countries to apply for and be denied asylum by Mexico, Guatemala, or another country through which they traveled before they could be eligible to make a claim for protection in the United States.

The Ninth Circuit said in its decision in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr that the policy, "does virtually nothing to ensure that a third country is a 'safe option'"and violates the federal immigration statute. If the Ninth Circuit had not ruled the way that it did, those who managed to reach the United States would be automatically considered to lack a credible fear of persecution in their home countries. The Ninth Circuit added that there was evidence that contradicted the administration’s assertion that migrants could obtain safe protection in Mexico and other countries.

The decision mirrors a similar decision made the previous month on June 30, 2020 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit which had ruled the same way in Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition v. Trump.