By comparing how a security concern along South Sudan’s border with the DRC– the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army –was interpreted and responded to, the article shows border security practices here are improvised, contradictory and contested, and serve to establish authority rather than securing the border. By allowing authority at the border to be taken by actors not under direct control of the central government, the South Sudanese state is developing as one that controls parts of the country in absentia, either by granting discretionary powers to low-level government authorities at the border or through tactical neglect. Processes of securitization by both state and non-state actors in the borderland are largely disconnected from the South Sudanese central government, which does not claim authority over this border and thus seemingly does not consider the lack of security for its citizens, and the parallel authorities, as a threat to central stability.