– Deadline Set to Expire March 31st
Liberians from various parts of the United States joined top State officials, and congressional leaders in Maryland on Tuesday to send an urgent call to the White House for the extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Thousands of Liberians in the United States will lose their immigration status by midnight on March 31st unless executive action is taken by President Trump.
The latest call to the White House came at a mass rally and press conference organized by the Liberian Community Association (LCA) in Washington DC in collaboration with the CASA immigrant lobby group in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Speaking at the event, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh cited the many contributions made by Liberians to the development of their various communities, and pledged his full support for the extension of DED for law abiding Liberian immigrants. “Our office will continue to fight for justice for these good people,” he added. Statements of support also came from U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen who cited the strategic foreign policy imperatives of DED for Liberia. Other officials from the adjacent jurisdictions of Prince Georges, and Montgomery pledged to issue official resolutions calling for the protection of Liberian immigrants.
The calls by the elected officials came as two professional Liberians including PhD candidate Yatta Kiazolu and Frances Baysah, Bsn., a professional nurse, explained their plight of repeated TPS, and DED extensions. Over 20,000 concerned individuals in the U. S. have signed a petition requesting extension of DED for Liberians.
In a statement read on behalf of the Liberian community, LCA President Lucy Wilson-Kear expressed appreciation to the Members of Congress and State officials for their unflinching support for Liberian immigrants in the U.S. She mentioned key actions taken by Congressional leaders including the recent letter issued to President Trump by the Maryland Congressional delegation along with leading members of the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committees. She also mentioned the tireless efforts of Liberian Communities in the U.S., and the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) leading to pending legislation introduced in both the House (HR-6), and Senate (S-2275) to grant permanent status to Liberians on DED. She also lauded the essential collaboration of the LCA with other immigrants with similar plight through CASA.
The Liberian community leader then drew attention to the prolonged period of repeated DED and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) extensions dating back to 3 decades beginning March 1991. “After 28 years of continuous contribution to the United States, Liberian immigrants have become an integral part of their communities. In a quest to achieve the American Dream, they have made enormous contributions to our local economies as reliable tax payers, home buyers, and successful entrepreneurs while others have achieved professional expertise through our educational institutions.
Many have become parents to thousands of U.S. citizen children, who could be impacted if protection is not granted,” She asserted. She called attention to the reality of severe conditions in Liberia, and the huge dependence of the Liberian economy on an estimated U.S. $400 billion in remittances from Liberians in the U.S. She continued, “It is important to mention that in the aftermath of a prolonged civil war, followed by the devastating outbreak of Ebola, it is evident that Liberia is still struggling to emerge. By all indications, the Liberian nation is still struggling to regain its footing from years of political, unrest and severe economic hardship,” she concluded.
The Liberian community leader then issued a direct call to the White House to extend DED not only in the interest of Liberians in the U.S. but also in the interest of U.S.–Liberia relations.