‘A Huge Win For Liberians, A Great Day For America’

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Diana Konate (ACT), LCA President Lucy Wilson Kear, Sen. Jack Reed (center), John F. Lloyd, Dorian Spence (Lawyers for Civil Rights) (1)

U.S. Senator Jack Reed Lauds Liberians After Passage of Bill to Grant Green Cards to Liberians on DED

By John F. Lloyd

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the overwhelming vote by the United States Senate in favor of Permanent Residency (Green Cards) for Liberians on Deferred Enforced Departure Status (DED) and those formerly on TPS, sources on Capitol Hill are confident that the provision, which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, will be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

The Rhode Island legislator lauded Liberians on Wednesday as he offered official briefings to the Liberian community at his Capitol Hill office in Washington DC in the immediate aftermath of the recent approval by the United States Senate of a bill to grant Permanent Residency (Green Cards) to Liberians on Deferred Enforced departure (DED) status.

The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday grant to Permanent Residency to Liberians on Deferred Enforced Departure Status (DED) and those formerly on TPS. The Senator asserted his confidence that the provision which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 will be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. He mentioned strong support by Sen. Tina Smith, MN, and the Republican Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Risch, ID.

Leading Liberian advocates at the briefing included Liberian Community Association President Lucy Wilson Kear, of Washington DC, and leading Liberian lobbyist, John F. Lloyd who was among the original proponents of Senator Reed’s legislative effort which began in 1998. They were joined by representatives of key Washington DC based lobbying groups including Patrice Lawrence of UndocuBlack, Diana Konate of African Communities Together (ACT), Dorian Spence of the Lawyers Committees for Civil Rights.

The historic victory for Liberians came through a legislative maneuver by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and leading champion for Liberian immigration protection in Congress who attached the Liberian immigration protection provision to the NDAA. The bill was approved overwhelmingly on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 86-8. It came after a similarly overwhelming passage last week in House of Representatives by a vote of 377-48.

Senator Reed included a provision in the NDAA backed by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) and the rest of the Rhode Island delegation, to allow eligible Liberians in the U.S. currently on the temporary immigration status of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to continue living legally in the U.S. and get on a pathway to earning U.S. citizenship.  In order to be eligible to apply for permanent residency under the law, applicants must have been living in the U.S. continuously since November 20, 2014, not been absent for more than 180 days in aggregate, and be otherwise eligible and admissible for permanent residence.

The provision would however prohibit eligibility for anyone convicted of a violent crime, or an individual who has ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

It would also require the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a process whereby applicants may seek a stay of deportation if they have filed an application for legal resident status and authorize the Secretary to allow individuals to work in the US while their application is being considered. It would mandate work authorization for anyone whose application has been pending for more than 180 days.

If granted, legal permanent residence would be approved as of the date of arrival in the United States.

The NDAA provision was based on S. 456, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, which Senator Reed introduced in the U.S. Senate.  Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced companion legislation (H.R.1169) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation is estimated to impact about 4,000 Liberians who have been legally living in the United States.

The successful passage of the provision has ignited jubilation by Liberians across America and culminates years of unrelenting lobbying by Liberian community leaders in the U.S.

In his statement issued after introduction of the provision, Senator Reed noted, “after decades of uncertainty, this is a huge win for my Liberian brothers and sisters and a great day for America.  This provision will adjust the status of Liberians on DED and those formerly on TPS to enable them to apply for permanent residency.  Liberians who’ve legally lived here for years, paid taxes, and made so many positive contributions to their various communities, especially in Rhode Island, deserve the opportunity to get on a path to becoming full citizens.  Everything they have in America they’ve earned through hard work and hard work should be rewarded,” said Senator Reed. “These individuals came to America seeking safety from devastating wars and disaster.  They’ve made a home here, built their lives, and strengthened our communities.  America is their home and they shouldn’t be evicted.  Forcing them back to Liberia now would create real hardships both here and in Liberia.  By extending their legal status, we are providing much needed certainty and a measure of security for individuals while helping foster Liberia’s post-war recovery.”

Sen. Reed Briefs Liberian advocates

“I’m pleased that the House advanced this critical legislation,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Rhode Island is home to more Liberian nationals per capita than any other state in our country. I am proud to continue standing up for them and for all those who have found refuge and contributed to our society.”

The West African nation of Liberia, founded in 1822 by former slaves from the United States, was plagued by civil war in the 1990s and more recently by a major Ebola outbreak. Under these conditions sought refuge in the U.S. through the strong advocacy of their community leaders. As part of its humanitarian response, the United States offered certain Liberians an opportunity to live, work, and pay taxes in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) systems, extended by both Republican and Democratic administrations beginning in 1991.

Last March, President Trump extended DED for qualified people from Liberia for one year, through March 31, 2020.

“Many Liberians are making important economic and civic contributions and should be allowed to stay.  Some who were brought here as children have grown up and now have children of their own who are U.S. citizens.  This bill will help provide much needed certainty and stability to families who were facing an uncertain future and possible deportation,” said Senator Reed, who originally introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act in 1999 and has reintroduced the bill in every session of Congress since that time.

Original Senate cosponsors of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act include Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).  Cicilline’s companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives was originally cosponsored by Jim Langevin (RI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Dean Phillips (MN-03), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL).

Rhode Island has one of the largest populations of Liberians per capita, and Senator Reed has been working since 1999 to allow this community to legally remain in the United States.  Many members of the Liberian community in the United States financially assist families and communities back in Liberia and make important contributions to Liberia’s reform and development.  Liberia’s continuing recovery efforts could be reversed if these remittances end, harming the United States’ foreign policy interests in the region.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great day for America ? Thought it should had been thank you President Donald Trump for a great humanitarian job well done. Where Bill Clinton failed to deliver, where George Bush failed to deliver and where Barack Obama as the first black President of America failed to deliver, it was the Donald that delivered. The Donald, a man with New York City spirit , but is often misunderstood by Liberians. Yes, the Donald has made America Great Again by his humanitarian efforts to the people of Liberia and to Liberians that will soon becoming the latest American citizens. Thanks Donald, you are the Man . James Davis as a Republican is calling on all Liberians to vote Republican . Four more years. Lets hear it , four more years.

    • Before I vote Republican, all I need from you is to understand the process.
      The past Republican senate have never allow any bill involving the granting of permanent resident status for TPS or DED recipients to reach the desk of George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Neither of these president ever refused to sign a bill to grant permanent resident status to any immigrant because no such bill ever reach their desk. Please give us a chance to allow Mr. Trump to sign this bill before praising him. Thank you.

  2. Greetings Mr. Davis: Kindly address the comment made by Mr. Nagbe as it is not proper for you to allow your statete to seem that it was misinformation you have given to those who you are calling upon to vote. Further, are you calling upon which Liberian citizens to vote? Kind Regards

  3. Again I am a proud Republican.

    Liberians should be grateful to the Party. It granted TPS, removed Taylor which ended the war and now approved path to citizenship for thousands of Liberians.

  4. Karjah,
    I like to address people of all backgrounds professionally. If I knew what your gender is, I would have addressed you with a suffix of either Mr., Miss or Mrs.

    In any case, I would like to say that it’s not immoral for a Liberian or any black person to identify with the Republican party. I was a Republican at one particular time. At the present time, I am a Registered Independent.

    It’s a brilliant idea for the Liberian people to be appreciative of the things that George Bush Jr. did for Liberia. Also, Trump shouldn’t be left in the cold. While TPS holders from countries other than Liberia were repatriated to their respective countries of birth, Liberian TPS holders were given a reprieve by Trump a couple of times! That’s a credit to him.

    However, Karjah, while I totally agree with you that Liberians ought to be appreciative, or “respectful” of the Republican party because of the laundry list of good things Trump has done for Liberia so far, I don’t think those are good reasons why any Liberian should become a Republican. A Liberian should become a Republican if she or he fully embraces the ideology of the party. Example, to spur economic growth, Republicans stress the view that taxes ought to be cut. Of course, if you had watched Morning Joe this morning and other MSNBC talk shows, you would have heard that although Trump stated his “tax cut plan” would put more money in our pockets, unfortunately, it hasn’t occurred yet.

    During the early years of the Liberian conflict, Mr. George Bush the Senior, was the president. Bush Senior went to war in Irag to teach Saddam Hussein a lesson, but Liberia was left in the oven to bake! When Bush Sr. drove Hussein out of Kuwait, his national ratings were high. Bush Sr. could have lended a helping hand to the Liberian people, but he didn’t. When Clinton became president, he encountered a hostile Congress. Do you remember “Contract with America”? Contract with America came about because the Democrats were badly spanked at the polls. In other words, the Lower House became dominated by the Republicans. As if that wasn’t an embarrassing political humiliation for Clinton, the Monica Lewinsky affair neutralized Clinton’s moral authority. Don’t get me wrong. I am not defending Clinton!

    What’s about Obama, you might ask? Well, Obama did some good for Liberia as well as for the Hispanics. What’s about the Dreamers? Okay, so the issue of the Dreamers is not applicable to Liberia, right? What about Obama’s donation of nearly twenty million bucks to Ma Ellen for educational improvement in Liberia? Obama did quite a few good things for Liberia. Given what Obama did for Liberia, will it be possible in your view for some Liberian-Americans to show respect for the Democratic Party?

  5. To: Uncles Hney, Dolo, and to all Liberians:

    A very happy happy holidays to you all and it is my fervent hope and payers that as we go forth into the New year, we all learn to be tolerant and respectful of each other and to always remember, that we are human beings first and Liberians second and that our common denominator is Mama Liberia.

    Stay blessed and remember, Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Not as they do unto you, but as you want them to do unto you.

    Peace

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