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Liberian DED Holders, Experts & Advocates Call for Extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), Highlight Importance of Protecting Liberian DED Holders

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DED Set to Expire in Just 5 days

On a press call this afternoon, two Liberian DED holders — one from Alabama and the other, Staten Island, New York — together with policy experts and advocates highlighted the importance of protecting the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program, which has allowed for so many Liberians to lawfully live and work in the United States for decades.

The program is under imminent threat, as the Trump Administration must decide in just five days — by Saturday, March 31st — whether to extend the program or allow for it to expire.

Nancy Harris, DED holder from Alabama, said, “I’ve been in the United States for 18 years, and came with my daughters to join my husband who is a mission pastor at a local church. DED has given us the ability to work and educate our daughters. Without DED we will have no way to work and take care of our family; we won’t have access to personal loans and our daughters won’t have access to federal student aid. DED recipients are educated individuals — who are working to help themselves and pay federal and state taxes — with communities that benefit from their presence. Recovering addicts at my husband’s church depend on him for counseling. I teach reading to children who couldn’t otherwise afford it. This is home for me and the thought of leaving my daughter is emotional. I’m pleading with the President and Congress to extend DED.”

Rose Knuckles Bull, DED holder from New York, said, “I have been a resident of Staten Island, New York for the past 18 years. I have worked in Human Resources for the Fire Department and in the Voter Registration Office. For people like me, who have been here since 1991, the programs and communities we’ve invested in for nearly two decades will be negatively impacted with the termination of DED. It would be unfair to force us to return to Liberia without anything, and start all over again at this age. The President should extend DED beyond this March 31st deadline.”

Vamba S. Fofana, President, Union of Liberian Association in America (ULAA), said, “Some of the first Liberians who came to the U.S. were escaping political persecution and have since contributed to the country. Over the years, Congresspeople and decision makers have worked to ensure that Liberians have somewhere to live, starting with President Bush with his initial implementation of the DED program. We call out to all current members of Congress to work for an extension of this program so that all Liberians have a place to live and raise their families. 50 legislators have already signed onto a letter urging President Trump to extend DED and we urge all members of Congress to sign the letter as well. Many Liberians are leaders in their communities and small business owners — they contribute to the economic vitality of America. Many employ U.S citizens and lawful residents. ULAA humbly requests that members of Congress call on Trump to extend DED and stop the deportation of Liberian DED-holders.”

Royce Murray, Policy Director, American Immigration Council, said, “Having been in the United States since at least 2002, with many here years longer, Liberian DED holders have made their lives in this country – they own homes, are valued workers, started businesses, have U.S.-born children, and integrated into the fabric of American society. Returning many Liberian DED holders back to Liberia will not only upend their families and communities here in the United States, but Liberia may struggle to absorb returning nationals who have not lived there for decades. This Liberian DED decision should force us to revisit how our immigration system works and think critically about who gains when we deport and destabilize the lives of so many long-residing people.”

 Patrice Lawrence, National Policy and Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network, said, “There has been a lot of support for DED, seen across the country and in Congress. There is a letter from over 50+ members of Congress to President Trump asking for extension of DED; there have also been faith letters sent, including one from 600+ faith leaders. DED holders work in health industries; they work in education. They are located across the United States with high populations in Alabama, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

“At the UndocuBlack Network, we firmly believe that you should hear from are those of the directly impacted community; as such, our advocacy is centered around their stories and needs. The Liberian population is unique as they have had continuous protection since 1991 and they are a multi-generational population many of whom served their best years in the United States and others have yet much more to look forward to. If the President does not act by March 31st, lawful status for these Liberian DED holders will expire immediately. ”