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DED Holder, Policy Experts, and Advocates React to Trump Administration Ending Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) For Liberians

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On a press call this evening, a Liberian DED holder living in Minnesota, policy experts, and advocates reacted to the Trump Administration’s decision today to end Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and forcibly deport thousands of legal Liberian immigrants.

Caroline Grimes, DED holder from Minnesota, said:

I came to the United States 17 years ago with a Bachelor’s Degree in French. I  worked as a bilingual Office Assistant, a bilingual Customer Service Representative, and for the State of Minnesota. I worked hard to build a life here and purchase a home and a car. When I went back to school to become a nurse, I didn’t even have access to financial aid.

I have not only contributed immensely to my community and supported my family here, I have also worked to support my extended family in Liberia during a time in which our home country is struggling. To see that Liberians in the United States have stabilized their lives — and I think that’s part of the American Dream and the pursuit of happiness — and still uproot us and send us back to Liberia will force us to become refugees all over again. We must let Donald Trump know that this decision is unacceptable, and to give us a year to go get ready to go back to nothing is disheartening and inhumane.

Abena Abraham of Minnesota Black Immigrant Collective, said:

Liberia’s current population is 4.6 million people and 1.2 million of those are unemployed. A few years ago, Liberia had an Ebola outbreak with about 30,000 cases and 11,000 deaths. At this point, the government is transitioning and not even operating fully. Officials took office in January of this year and they’re still in the process of appointing ministers. There’s not even enough money to pay government workers – civilians are just living on a prayer. Infrastructure is not well developed and destructive fires have recently broken out as a result of dense populations. Liberia is also in a food crisis and many people depend solely on eggs for protein. On top of all this, the conversion rate is currently $136 Liberian dollars to one U.S. dollar so even everyday needs are quite expensive. Going back to Liberia is a huge concern because these communities will be returning back to these situations. With all of these issues, there will be a huge crisis. We really are disappointed in the decision today and hope that Congress moves to enact legislation that supports permanent residency for DED and TPS holders.

Patrice Lawrence, National Policy and Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network (Moderator), said:

Shame on the Administration for ending this bare minimum program. Let’s be clear: this decision was a show of heart by the Trump Administration. We are deeply disappointed in the decision to end the program, despite the resiliency shown by Liberians. To ask people who have been here since the late 1990s to leave is harsh, cruel, and disgusting. You have a large group of people who now feel unstable. We see this Administration’s relentless anti-immigrant policy and rhetoric as a concerted effort to make every immigrant undocumented.

Amaha Kassa, Founder and Executive Director, African Communities Together, said:

It’s an important victory that Liberian DED recipients will get an additional year of status and work authorization. This is the result of our community’s organizing and advocacy. At the same time, terminating DED for Liberia, now or in a year, is the wrong decision. These Liberian Americans have lived in and contributed to the US for decades – they deserve a chance to do so permanently.

Now it’s up to Congress to pass a bill that gives Liberian DED holders, and hundreds of thousands of TPS holders who are in the same situation, permanent status in this country. We urge Congress to take action on the American Promise Act 2017 (H.R. 4253), the SECURE Act (S. 2144), and the ASPIRE TPS Act 2017 (H.R 4384), which would do just that.