A recording of the call is available here
Earlier today, immigration justice advocates joined South Sudanese human rights activist Manyang Reath to discuss the urgent need for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to extend and redesignate South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Experts made the argument that TPS for South Sudan must be extended and re-designated for 18 months as ongoing armed conflict and extraordinarily unstable conditions make safe return impossible for those already in the United States. DHS has the authority to allow more recently arrived people to seek protection, and needs to render a decision by September 3rd on whether to extend or terminate life-saving protection. Especially as conditions in South Sudan deteriorate with the COVID 19 crisis, the urgency of re-designation and extension for families and communities here cannot be understated.
Manyang Reath, South Sudanese Human Rights activist and an adjunct professor at George Mason University, said, “As a South Sudanese national, the little protections that we have here are being taken away. South Sudan is still recovering from a conflict, and now we are dealing with the COVID19 pandemic. It is hard to live here, and we need protection.”
Lia Lindsey, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, Oxfam America, said, “Current conditions in South Sudan are categorically unsafe for the return of South Sudanese TPS holders, as evident by the intense violence that continues to torment civilians across the country. Ongoing conflict has displaced 1.6 million people and an estimated 64 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance, with humanitarian needs on the rise due to COVID-19. In some areas, armed conflict is so severe that some humanitarian agencies cannot operate, as is the case right now in Pibor. With widespread food insecurity ranging from crisis to catastrophic levels, there is little doubt that TPS for South Sudan must be redesignated and extended.”
Lisa Parisio, Advocacy Attorney for Policy and Outreach, CLINIC, said, “The Department of Homeland Security must grant the maximum TPS protection – 18 month extension and redesignation – for South Sudan, called for under the law and by morality. Safe return is impossible with the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis, now compounded by COVID. Redesignation, which provides protection to people who have more recently arrived in the United States since the last cut off date, is vital. The need for security and stability from current conditions in South Sudan does not change based on the day a person arrived in the United States.”
Diana Konaté, Policy Director, African Communities Together, said, “The premature termination of TPS destabilizes families and communities. This results in people losing their job, losing access to healthcare, losing the ability to drive legally, or even finishing their education. As we are all well aware, living in the United States undocumented makes life a lot more difficult. But the consequences can be more severe in Black communities; we’ve seen deportation rates for Black immigrants and Africans grow significantly under this administration. Of particular concern is that individuals continue to be deported to countries that the U.S. has said aren’t safe for nationals to return to, including South Sudan.”
Mustafa Jumale, Policy Manager, Black Alliance for Just Immigration & Co-Founder of Black Immigrant Collective, said, “TPS holders have been in this country for many decades. They are a part of the fabric of many US cities. Many have American-born children, they have built homes, businesses, and communities. In some instances, these TPS holders have revived small-town economies with their labor. Others have enriched our academic institutions both as students and educators. There is nothing temporary about their lives. Being in limbo as they have been is cruel and unkind as it keeps them indefinitely on hold, or that they face the threat of detention and deportation.
Over the past four years, TPS holders have been organizing to push for a permanent solution which led to the passage of the Dream and Promise ACT. There have been many TPS convenings in DC, last year we had more than 50 Black TPS holders join us to lobby for a permanent solution with other immigrant rights organizations. Right now many TPS holders are waiting for the Ramos vs. Nielsen court decision that will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders if the injunction is lifted. We need the Senate to act right now and bring the Dream and Promise act to the floor and pass protections for the 11 million other undocumented folks in this country.
We need this administration to re-designate South Sudanese TPS, we are one week away from the decision date which is next Wednesday. As our speakers have shared today, there are so many lives at risk and we need a re-designation”