“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Monday announced an end to protections for Sudanese immigrants, a move that advocates fear could be a sign of things to come.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday afternoon that it would be ending Temporary Protected Status for Sudan after a 12-month sunset period. It opted to extend, however, Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, through May 2019.
The decision was overdue. By law, decisions on TPS designations are required 60 days before an expiration deadline. With both countries’ status set to expire on November 2, the decision was due September 3. DHS said it made a decision in time, but kept it quiet for more than two weeks and did not respond to requests for an explanation.
While the decision on the future of Temporary Protected Status for Sudanese and South Sudanese immigrants only affects just over 1,000 people in the US, the decision is being closely watched as a harbinger of where the administration will go on upcoming TPS decisions that affect more than 400,000 people in the US.
Under Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke’s direction on Monday, recipients of protections from Sudan will be allowed to remain protected from deportation and allowed to work under the program until November 2, 2018, during which they are expected to arrange for their departure or seek another immigration status that would allow them to remain in the US.
Individuals from South Sudan will be able to extend their status until May 2, 2019, when DHS will make another decision on their future based on conditions in the country.
According to USCIS data, at the end of 2016 there were 1,039 temporarily protected immigrants from Sudan in the United States and 49 from South Sudan.
Temporary Protected Status is a type of immigration status provided for by law in cases where a home country may not be hospitable to returning immigrants for temporary circumstances, including in instances of war, epidemic and natural disaster.
While DHS did not explain the delay in publicizing the decision, which the agency confirmed last week was made on time, the law only requires “timely” publication of a TPS determination. The decision was made as the administration was preparing to announce the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a popular program that has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation since 2012.
Some of the affected individuals have been living in the US for 20 years. TPS is not a blanket protection — immigrants have to have been living in the US continuously since a country was “designated” for TPS in order to qualify.
For example, Sudan was first designated in 1997 and was re-designated in 1999, 2004 and 2013, meaning people had opportunities to apply if they’ve been living in the US since any of those dates. South Sudan’s TPS was established in 2011 and had re-designations in 2014 and 2016.
Both countries were designated for TPS based on “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
The situation in Sudan has improved in recent years, but there are still concerns about its stability and human rights record. In January, outgoing President Barack Obama eased sanctions on Sudan but made some moves contingent upon further review. President Donald Trump has extended that review period. South Sudan, meanwhile, remains torn by conflict.
Advocates for TPS have expressed fear that if the administration were to begin to unwind the programs, it could be a sign of further decisions to come. In the next six months, roughly 400,000 immigrants’ status will be up for consideration, including Central American countries like El Salvador that have been a focus of the Presidents’ ire over illegal immigration and gang activity.
California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the immigration subcommittee for the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview before the decision that ending Sudan’s protections could be a sign of more to come.
“I mean look what’s going on in Sudan,” Lofgren said. “If that is a wise decision, what’s an unwise one?”
Let’s take a closer look at some of those supposedly “improved conditions,” using the Government’s own information, the U.S. Department of State’s latest (2016) Country Report on Human Rights Conditions for Sudan:
“The three most significant human rights problems were inability of citizens to choose their government, aerial bombardments of civilian areas by military forces and attacks on civilians by government and other armed groups in conflict zones, and abuses perpetrated by NISS with impunity through special security powers given it by the regime. On January 14, the government launched an intensive aerial and ground offensive against Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) strongholds in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur. This operation displaced more than 44,700 persons by January 31, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In February the government established in Darfur a suboffice of the National Human Rights Commission to enhance the commission’s capacity to monitor human rights in Darfur. Meanwhile, ground forces comprising Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Border Guards carried out attacks against more than 50 villages in an attempt to dislodge the armed opposition. Attacks on villages often included killing and beating of civilians; sexual and gender-based violence; forced displacement; looting and burning entire villages; destroying food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life; and attacks on humanitarian targets, including humanitarian facilities and peacekeepers. In September, Amnesty International issued a report alleging that, through September the government engaged in scorched-earth tactics and used chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur. UN monitors were unable to verify the alleged use of chemical weapons, due in part to lack of access to Jebel Marra, including by rebel commanders loyal to Abdel Wahid. By year’s end the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not been presented with sufficient corroborating evidence to conclude chemical weapons had been used. The NISS continued to show a pattern of widespread disregard for rule of law, committing major abuses, such as extrajudicial and other unlawful killings; torture, beatings, rape and other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; incommunicado detention; prolonged pretrial detention; obstruction of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly,association, religion, and movement; and intimidation and closure of human rights and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Societal abuses included discrimination against women; sexual violence; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); early childhood marriage; use of child soldiers; child abuse; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS; denial of workers’ rights; and child labor. Government authorities did not investigate human rights violations by NISS, the military or any other branch of the security services, with limited exceptions relating to the national police. The government failed to adequately compensate families of victims of shootings during the September 2013 protests, make its investigations public, or hold security officials accountable. Impunity remained a problem in all branches of the security forces.
. . . .
The 2005 Interim National Constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, but security forces, government-aligned groups, rebel groups, and ethnic factions continued to torture, beat, and harass suspected political opponents, rebel supporters, and others. In accordance with the government’s interpretation of sharia (Islamic law), the penal code provides for physical punishments, including flogging, amputation, stoning, and the public display of a body after execution, despite the constitution’s prohibitions. With the exception of flogging, such physical punishment was rare. Courts routinely imposed flogging, especially as punishment for the production or consumption of alcohol. The law requires police and the attorney general to investigate deaths on police premises, regardless of suspected cause. Reports of suspicious deaths in police custody were sometimes investigated but not prosecuted. For example, in November authorities detained a man upon his return from Israel. He died while in custody, allegedly from falling out a window, although the building had sealed windows. The president called on the chief prosecutor and chief justice to ensure full legal protection of police carrying out their duties and stated that police should investigate police officers only when they were observed exceeding their authority. Government security forces (including police, NISS, and military intelligence personnel of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)) beat and tortured physically and psychologically persons in detention, including members of the political opposition, civil society, religious activists, and journalists, according to civil society activists in Khartoum, former detainees, and NGOs. Torture and other forms of mistreatment included prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme temperature variations, electric shock, and use of stress positions. Some female detainees alleged NISS harassed and sexually assaulted them. Some former detainees reported being injected with an unknown substance without their consent. Many former detainees, including detained students, reported being forced to take sedatives that caused lethargy and severe weight loss. The government subsequently released many of these persons without charge. Government authorities detained members of the Darfur Students Association during the year. Upon release, numerous students showed visible signs of severe physical abuse. Government forces reportedly used live bullets to disperse crowds of protesting Darfuri students. There were numerous reports of violence against student activists’ family members.
Security forces detained political opponents incommunicado, without charge, and tortured them. Some political detainees were held in isolation cells in regular prisons, and many were held without access to family or medical treatment. Human rights organizations asserted NISS ran “ghost houses,” where it detained opposition and human rights figures without acknowledging they were being held. Such detentions at times were prolonged. Journalists were beaten, threatened, and intimidated (see section 2.a.). The law prohibits (what it deems as) indecent dress and punishes it with a maximum of 40 lashes, a fine, or both. Officials acknowledged authorities applied these laws more frequently against women than men and applied them to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Courts denied some women bail, although by law they may have been eligible. There were numerous abuses reported similar to the following example: On June 25, the Public Order Police arrested several young women and men in Khartoum under the Public Order Act for “indecent dress.” During the sweep, all women who did not have their hair covered were taken into custody. The Public Order Police further arrested two young men for wearing shorts. According to NGO reports, the Public Order Police released the young women and men later the same day without charges.
Security forces, rebel groups, and armed individuals perpetrated sexual violence against women throughout the country; the abuse was especially prevalent in the conflict areas (see section 1.g.). As of year’s end, no investigations into the allegations of mass rape in Thabit, Darfur, had taken place (see section 6).”
What I’ve set forth above is just a small sample of some of the “lowlights.” Virtually every paragraph of the Country Report is rife with descriptions of or references to gross abuses of Human Rights.
Clearly, these are not the type of “improved country conditions” that would justify the termination of TPS for Sudan. Moreover, since it affects only 1,000 individuals, there are no overriding policy or practical reasons driving the decision.
No, the Administration’s totally disingenuous decision is just another example of wanton cruelty, denial of established facts, and stupidity. Clearly, this is an Administration that puts Human Rights last, if at all.
As pointed out by Nolan Rappaport in a a recent post, the best solution here is a legislative solution that would provide green cards to long-time “TPSers” through the existing statutory device of “registry.” With some lead time to work on this, hopefully Lofgren can convince enough of her colleagues to make it happen.
Here’s a link to Nolan’s proposal: