Home Amid hostilities in Sudan, senators request protected status for nationals in the U.S.

Amid hostilities in Sudan, senators request protected status for nationals in the U.S.

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Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia formally requested Tuesday that the Biden Administration issue a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Sudan.

The senators highlighted the need for increased protections of Sudanese nationals already in the United States as violence erupts across the Sudan. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled to safety.

The senators expressed their concern with the worsening humanitarian conditions in Sudan as intense fighting continues in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“In recent weeks, violence in Sudan has claimed hundreds of lives, injured thousands, forcibly displaced tens of thousands, and terrorized many more,” the senators wrote. “Despite multiple attempted ceasefires between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), intense and indiscriminate fighting continues across the country, including within the densely populated capital of Khartoum, and in the continuously conflict-stricken region of Darfur. Ongoing hostilities have led to the near collapse of the healthcare system, significantly disrupted the flow of humanitarian aid into the country, and in many cases made access to basic resources like food, water, and medication impossible.”

TPS is a temporary, renewable program that provides relief from deportation and access to a work permit for foreign nationals from certain countries who are unable to return home safely due to natural disasters, armed conflicts or other conditions. The program was established by the U.S. Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990. More than 54,000 immigrants from Sudan are in the United States as of 2021, according to data, with the highest concentration located in Fairfax County, Virginia.

“Given the extremely violent clashes, deteriorating conditions, and the posture of the Department of State, it is clear that Sudan meets the standards for TPS. To that end, it is critical that a new designation be issued for Sudan that reflects the ongoing armed conflict and the continued extraordinary and temporary conditions on the ground,” the senators wrote.

Warner supported the Biden Administration delivering humanitarian assistance to the region last week and pushing for an end to the violence through diplomatic efforts. Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), has pushed for the administration to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens in Sudan and urged both sides to commit to a permanent ceasefire. Kaine held an event in Richmond with members of Virginia’s Sudanese American community last week to hear their perspectives on the conflict and discuss ways he can be helpful.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.