The following is a statement by Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, on the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to extend Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberia:
At the 11th hour, Trump is attempting to offer a solution to a problem that he created. Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to extend Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberia for another year – until March 2020. DED, which has been extended every 18 months since President George W. Bush authorized it for Liberians, prevents the deportation of certain Liberian nationals who fled their country or are unable to return because of conditions there. It also allows recipients to obtain a work permit and travel out of the U.S. if they have advanced permission, but provides no path to legal status or citizenship.
The policy of DED dates back to the 1990s, so these are immigrants who are now deeply rooted in U.S. communities, with children and careers and businesses. The Trump administration created this crisis when it decided to terminate the DED program and put the lives of thousands of Liberians in jeopardy.
While DHS’ decision is a welcomed brief reprieve, it is important to recognize that efforts to push for protections for Liberians and other immigrant communities do not stop here. The year-long extension merely delays the vulnerability to deportation until Congress acts to put in place a permanent, stable option for Liberians with DED to remain in the U.S. While today was a victory, we cannot give up fighting for legislation like the Dream and Promise Act (HR. 6) to extend permanent residency and eventual citizenship to DED holders, those with TPS and to Dreamers. Millions of American citizens — an estimated 6 million U.S. citizen children — live in households who will remain vulnerable to deportation until the Congress acts, especially given the erratic and immigrant-hostile current President.
We must continue to stand up for Dreamers, TPS and DED holders who are thriving, building strong families, and contributing to their U.S. communities. They are Americans, and it is time to formally recognize this reality.