Over 4,000 Liberians in U.S. Risk Deportation as DED Expires Next Month

For many Liberians in the U.S., it was a moment of joy in March, last year, when President Donald Trump announced that their Deferred Enforced Departure status was extended by an additional one year.

However, Trump’s memorandum also directed the Department of Homeland Security to begin a 12-month wind-down of DED for Liberians. The U.S. president argued that conditions in Liberia have improved and the country is no longer experiencing armed conflicts and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.

The extension followed calls from hundreds of Liberian immigrants and the support of more than 50 members of the U.S. Congress. But the joy that existed among DED beneficiaries last year seems to have worn away so fast, as the 12-month extension will expire on March 31 this year.

DED beneficiaries, according to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service, are Liberians or stateless individuals who last resided in Liberia and lived in the U.S. since 2002. Some held another immigration status called Temporary Protected Status up to September 30, 2007, and who were also subsequently covered by DED. More than 4,000 Liberians are currently covered under DED.

With less than 60 days left for the DED to expire, Liberians in the U.S. have again begun a new campaign to extend their temporary status.

Minnesota’s fifth district representative, who also hails from Somalia, Ilhan Omar, supported the campaign taking Liberian immigrant Linda Clark as her official guest to this year’s State of the Union address. Clark will be affected by the expiration of the DED status.

“I’m excited to share my #SOTU guest is Linda Clark, a Liberian immigrant facing deportation due to Trump’s decision to revoke DED protections,” Omar wrote.

According to her, Clark has lived in the U.S. for more than 18-years and should not be taken away from her family.

Wynfred Russell, a Liberian currently serving on the City Council of Brooklyn Park in Minnesota, recently introduced a resolution urging Minnesota’s congressional delegation to act swiftly in protecting Liberians on DED by passing comprehensive immigration reform and by asking the U.S. president to reinstate DED.

Russell announced that the resolution was overwhelmingly passed after a unanimous vote by council members awaiting submission to the state’s congressional delegation.

Liberia honorary counsel general to Minnesota, Jackson George, Jr., also earlier asked the Brooklyn Park City Council to ask their elected officials to pass a bill which would allow currently protected Liberians to stay in the country.

Brooklyn Park’s Mayor Jeff Lunde also declared February 2019 as DED Awareness Month at the council’s meeting on January 28. The state of Minnesota is the home to the largest community of Liberians in the U.S.

Featured Photo courtesy of Joyce Hayes Hoggard

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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