Lobbying to get DED extended before March 31 expiration date
As the deadline looms towards the expiration of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status of thousands of Liberians in the United States, Liberian Diaspora leaders and activists are gathering in Washington DC for a last ditch effort to seek reprieve.
Leading members of the Liberian lobby include Liberian-born Mayor of Helena, Montana, Wilmot Collins, and Brooklyn Park City Councilman Wynfred Russell. They are in Washington along with a team of Liberian Diaspora leaders including ULAA Executive Abdullah Kiatambah, LCA Washington DC President Lucy Wilson Kear, and the Liberian Consul General Jackson George.
The consolidated effort in Washington DC is led by a consolidated delegation of Liberians from various parts of the U.S. led by a large delegation from the State of Minnesota along with the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), the Liberian Community in Washington (LCA) and the Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL). They are joined by a network of immigrant groups in Washington in a bid to lobby members of the U.S. Congress to add their voices to the cause of Liberian immigration protection.
The legislative effort to protect Liberians in Washington is led by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island – a longstanding supporter of Liberian immigration who has championed several legislations on the floor of the U.S. Congress to protect Liberian immigrants including one currently in process to adjust the status of Liberians on DED and those formerly on TPS to permanent residency.
Resolution Sent to U.S. Congress
In the 11th hour of uncertainty, leaders of the movement have remained hopeful with growing support from major supporters within the U.S. government. Last week a major resolution calling for the protection of Liberians on DED was overwhelmingly passed by the City Council of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and signed by the Mayor. In the Resolution no. 2019 it was declared: “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of Brooklyn Park that we are urging the Minnesota Congressional Delegation to pressure Congressional leadership to act swiftly to protect our Liberian neighbors and friends by passing comprehensive immigration reform and by urging President Donald Trump to reinstate DED, if legislation is not passed in time by the March 31, 2019 deadline.”
The resolution was introduced by Brooklyn Park Councilman Wynfred Russell, and defended by Consul General Jackson George. It came with a Proclamation from the Mayor declaring February 2019 as Liberian DED Awareness Month.
The congressional lobbying effort will be followed this weekend by a comprehensive immigration lawyers’ workshop hosted by the Liberian Community (LCA) in Washington on Saturday February 16 in Silver Spring, Maryland. According to LCA president Lucy Wilson Kear, the workshop will bring together recognized attorneys who offer free legal services and advice to Liberians on DED status regarding possible immigration remedies.
The event will bring together a host of Liberian immigration lawyers who will render legal advice to Liberian nationals affected by DED. Key topics to be discussed will include “Knowing Your Rights”; “Current State of Play on DED & Advocacy for Extension”; “What Are Your Immigration Legal Options” and “How to Prepare for Family and Property for Possible Termination of Status.”
The LCA leader explained that while maintaining hope for reprieve, proactive measures are necessary to provide essential legal guidance to those who may be affected in the event of non-extension.