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ICYMI: Black Immigrant Advocates Celebrate DED for Liberians

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Arizona Republic: Biden reinstates deportation protections for 10,000 Liberians who fled Civil War

In a new piece for Arizona Republic , Daniel Gonzalez reports on welcome good news for the Liberian and broader immigrant community.

President Biden has signed an executive order extending Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) that will protect more than 10,000 Liberians from deportation, an action in line with his Administration’s shift in policy on immigration. After four years under a President who referred to Haiti and African countries as “shithole countries,” this move from the Biden Administration is a much needed pivot towards common sense immigration policies that include Black immigrants.

The article is excerpted below and can be read in full here: 

President Joe Biden has signed more than a dozen immigration actions since taking office. But one measure that reinstates deportation protections to undocumented Liberians has gone largely unnoticed yet has major implications.

While not as high profile as Biden’s other immigration actions, such as ending construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall and rescinding the previous administration’s so-called Muslim ban, Biden’s memorandum saved thousands of Liberians in the U.S., including some in Arizona, from losing long-standing deportation protections after fleeing civil war in Liberia.

‘This is going to mean the world to people,’ said Lester Myers, president of the Liberian Association of Arizona. ‘It’s brought a lot of hope. It means that people’s dreams are going to be established.;

…It reflects Biden’s commitment to Black immigrants, marking a shift away from Trump’s attempts to curtail immigration from Haiti and African countries he reportedly once referred to as ‘shithole countries.’

During the transition, Biden’s team met with various immigration advocacy groups and “they seemed sincere in their desire to improve the immigration system and particularly as it relates to Black immigrants,” said Diana Konate, policy director at African Communities Together, which advocates for African immigrants.

…Black immigrant advocates are asking the Biden administration to regularly publish on the USCIS website the status of processing of applications for green cards through the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program.

They are calling on the Biden administration to reverse restrictions Trump placed on a diversity visa lottery program citing the need to protect American jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The diversity visa lottery program awards about 55,000 green cards annually to  immigrants from countries that do not send many immigrants to the U.S.

About a third of the immigrants awarded green cards through the program come from African countries, Konate said. But they have been blocked from coming to the U.S. by the restrictions Trump implemented and the green cards they were awarded will expire in March, Konate said.

‘It’s something that needs to be addressed quickly,’ she said.