The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that it would end temporary protection for citizens of Sudan who were living illegally in the United States.
The government first granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Sudanese citizens in 1997 after determining that famine, food insecurity, and mass violence in the African country would make it unsafe for its citizens to return from America. The number of people affected is small, an estimated 300 to 500 people. But it is significant because critics long have contended that TPS has become just another abused immigration program, and that it made a mockery of the “temporary” part of Temporary Protected Status.
More than 200,000 from El Salvador have been living with TPS in the United States since 2001.
“The announcement should be the ‘T’ in TPS is back — or maybe not even back but there in the first place,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
The TPS program protects recipients from deportation and gives them authorization to work legally in the United States. There are an estimated 300,000 TPS beneficiaries from 13 countries that experienced crises ranging from natural disasters to war.
Perceived abuses have prompted calls in Congress for legislative reform to restrict the program.
The Department of Homeland Security said Acting Secretary Elaine Duke had determined that conditions in Sudan no longer support the designation. She indicated that she would extend benefits for beneficiaries of Sudan for 12 months to allow for an orderly transition before it terminates on Nov. 2, 2018.
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Current TPS beneficiaries from Sudan must re-register for TPS. After TPS expires, recipients will revert to whatever immigration status they had before. Those without authorization should prepare to leave the country or apply for some other immigration status for which they may qualify, the department said.
The announcement comes on the heels of the administration’s decision in May to grant a limited, six-month extension of TPS for Haitians living in the United States. That status, which has protected Haitians since an earthquake in 2010, is now set to expire in January.
“It seems they’re actually reviewing these cases seriously … That’s certainly a positive development,” Mehlman said.