Deportation Protection Extended One Year for Liberian Refugees in the US

In a suprising turn of events, President Trump released a presidential memorandum last week that  extends the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status for around 4,000 Liberian refugees who feared they would be deported at the end of the month. Although not a solution, the one-year extension will provide much needed relief for the community.

This relief comes after Liberians in the U.S. met with lawmakers and held protests urging politicians to extend their deportation protection. Many of these Liberians have U.S. born children, and many have lived in the U.S. for over two-decades. The majority of Liberian refugees in the U.S. live in Minnesota, and they found support from some state law-makers there who argued on their behalf. Legal advocates also challenged the ending of DED by filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration earlier this month. Their argument was that the situation in the region remains concerning.

Last year Trump claimed that the climate in Liberia had “stabilized” in the years after civil war in the nation, and he promised to end the DED program on March 30, 2019.  In his most recent announcement, he now claims that the situation in West Africa “remains concerning.”

Although happy to have momentary relief, advocates and Liberians in the U.S. are still calling for a comprehensive and permanent solution. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called the extension “good news” but also reminded Congress that peoples’ lives are dependent on their “inaction.” Minnesota Senator Tina Smith also reminded Congress that proposed legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Liberian refugees has “sat in Congress for many years.”

Even with more time on their side, the fate of Liberian refugees in the U.S. remains unclear, but as a community, they have proven that they are determined to find a solution. 

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