Asylum Access and Asylum Access México join amicus brief opposing U.S. third country asylum rule

Asylum Access Press Release

OAKLAND, CA — Asylum Access and Asylum Access México joined the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and other asylum advocates in filing an amicus brief in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing the Trump Administration’s Third Country Asylum rule. 

The brief shows that this rule, which denies asylum to any refugee who passed through a third country on their journey to the United States, virtually eliminates asylum in the United States. The rule results in return of refugees to danger in their home countries in violation of domestic and international law. Asylum seekers have many reasons to apply for asylum in one country over another that do not undermine the legitimacy of their claims. Not every refugee can be safe in the countries they travel through and many have personal ties to the U.S. that make it a better asylum destination.  

While asylum in Mexico is a good choice for many Asylum Access México clients, the option of seeking asylum in Mexico does not and cannot protect all the refugees turned away under the third country asylum rule. The Mexican asylum system does not have the capacity to meet even the current demand for asylum protection. Because of this capacity problem, refugees wait for months, without travel authorization or work permits, for Mexico to issue humanitarian visas or process their asylum paperwork. Asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for U.S. asylum adjudications have been targeted for extortion, kidnapping, and other violent attacks, while perpetrators enjoy virtual impunity. Mexico frequently returns refugees to their own countries without giving them the opportunity to present their asylum cases in violation of its refoulement obligations. 

The U.S. law alternatives of withholding of removal and protection under the law implementing the UN Convention Against Torture require refugees to prove a much higher likelihood of harm and provide lesser relief with no access to family reunification, automatic work permits, or the right to travel. These alternatives cannot replace the right of a refugee to seek asylum in the U.S.

Read the amicus brief here.

Diana Essex-Lettieri, COO and vice-president, +1.805.512.0645