Minneapolis, MN —Jared Goyette penned a moving, in-depth piece about a Minnesota family facing separation after the Trump Administration announced last week it would terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for thousands of Liberian immigrants currently protected under the program living in the United States.
Magdalene Menyongaro, 48, came to the US from Liberia 24 years ago, and lives in an apartment with her 16-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Gworlekaju, in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a state home to a high concentration of Liberian DED holders. Gabrielle is on the brink of starting the college application process, and is increasingly worried the one she leans on most for advice – her mother – will no longer be around for this pivotal time in her life.
The piece in its entirety can be accessed here, and a few excerpted highlights follow:
“It’s ridiculous,” Gworlekaju told the Guardian. “I would be so hurt if my mom were to leave. A year from now I’ll be deciding on what colleges to go to, and I need my mom to help me make those decisions. I need her here, I need her with me.”
Menyongaro works as a caretaker for senior citizens, making her part of the local healthcare industry that has come to rely on Liberian immigrants. She works the early shift, from 7am to 3pm, so she can be home when her daughter gets off school every day. She cooks her supper (often potato greens, a popular Liberian rice dish) and makes sure she gets her homework done. Like many Liberian DED holders across the country – activists say the largest groups live in Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Rhode Island – Menyongaro had feared the worst.
That a similar outcome might be likely for Liberian DED holders in a year is a reality that Menyongaro and Gworlekaju are dealing with, right now, by simply trying not to think about it. And by willing themselves to be hopeful.
If she does have to leave the country, Menyongaro plans to send her daughter to live with other relatives in the US – not the worst outcome, but still a heartbreaking rift. She hopes it does not come to that.
“The way I take care of her and the way I want her to grow up, I don’t know if somebody else can do that,” she explained. “And it’s my prayer that God will not let that separation happen. God cannot do that. He already taking her father away. And he cannot take the mom away like that.”
While her daughter looked away anxiously, the mother pressed her lips into a stoical smile.
“I don’t think that will happen,” she said.