DHS’s late decision on Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan and failure to protect those who recently arrived is cruel and morally indefensible

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The administration’s decision not to redesignate Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan, allowing more people to be covered by it is “morally reprehensible,” said Anna Gallagher, executive director of CLINIC.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen issued an 18-month extension of TPS for South Sudan without redesignation on March 8, five days after the decision was due by law. In the weeks leading up to Nielsen’s decision, CLINIC and interfaith partners argued for maximum protection permitted under the law for South Sudanese TPS holders, based on current country conditions, public policy arguments and interfaith values. South Sudan has an ongoing civil war, massive displacement and a devastating food insecurity crisis.

“South Sudan is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world,” said Gallagher. “This conflict is notorious for the violent targeting of civilians as well as sexual and gender-based violence regularly used as a weapon of war.” South Sudan also lacks clean water, a viable health care system and suffers from inadequate public infrastructure.

”Nielson’s decision not to redesignate is morally reprehensible,” she said. A recent study estimates that 400,000 people have lost their lives in the protracted conflict.

“Redesignation would have been in keeping with the law and congressional intent,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s director of advocacy. “Redesignation would have allowed people who have more recently fled from the conflict to apply for protection. That could be hundreds of people. South Sudanese who currently have TPS and more recent arrivals from South Sudan are in equal need of protection and safety. This is why TPS exists.”

In addition to the cruelty of not redesignating, the administration’s failure to announce its decision by the March 3 deadline is disappointing and left people in a state of anxiety and limbo. “This decision is wrong on the law procedurally and it’s wrong on the law substantively,” said Bussey.

CLINIC has been tracking the administration’s TPS decisions and has called for accountability and oversight for its failure to redesignate any country. Failure to redesignate broke with past practice for South Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, all of which had received the maximum protection under the law at every decision under previous administrations.