Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it would end Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians, jeopardizing the futures of thousands of Liberian immigrants and families, who are integral members of our communities across the country.
Many immigrants have voiced their fears in wake of this decision.
Relevant excerpts from media reports follow:
By Alan Gomez
Rose Knuckles Bull, a Liberian who has been living in New York under the program, said her years of work for a fire department and a voter registration office will be tossed aside if she’s forced to return to a country she hasn’t seen for nearly a quarter century.
“It would be unfair to force us to return to Liberia without anything, and start all over again at this age,” she said.
By Mila Koumpilova
Caroline Grimes, a local DED recipient in her 50s, said that after working and paying taxes in the United States for 17 years, the prospect of returning to Liberia with its nonexistent safety net for the elderly is daunting.
She said she fled the country’s civil war and worked a string of office jobs in Minnesota before putting herself through nursing school and starting a medical career.
“To uproot us from the United States and send us back to Liberia is like being a refugee all over again,” she said. “This is so disheartening.”
By Tim Nelson
Pastor Moses Punni of Coon Rapids, a beneficiary of the program since 2001 and a father of four U.S. citizens, called on Congress to intervene on behalf of Liberians.
“I believe in God that before this year ends that we will have a permanent solution to this partially fixed crisis that is hanging over the beneficiaries of Liberian DED,” Punni said.
By Esther Yu Hsi Lee
What’s particularly unique about the DED program is that the president does not have to make a decision to renew or terminate the program until the last day of the program, so Liberian DED recipients live in constant uncertainty.
Trump also has not hid his feelings about people from African countries.
By Marie Solis
“This is home for me,” Nancy Harris, a DED holder from Alabama, said Monday. “I’m pleading with Congress and the president to just consider us—we’re not a large group of people. Our communities benefit from us.”
Harris, 53, has lived in the U.S. with her husband and three daughters since 2000, when they fled a Liberia roiled by its second civil war. Many other Liberians arrived under the same circumstances. Harris’s husband had found a job in Alabama as a pastor, and the two were able to secure Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for themselves and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status for their two oldest daughters. Harris later began work teaching literacy to black youth in the community.
By Paul Blest
“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,” Minnesotan and DED holder Caroline Grimes said in a press call tonight reacting to Trump’s decision.
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Liberians in Minnesota on edge after Trump decision
By Dave Orrick
“It is inhumane. It is crude. It is harsh. And it is wholly unnecessary,” said Patrice Lawrence, national policy and advocacy director at UndocuBlack Network.
Not so for Caroline Grimes, a Minnesota resident in her 50s, who gained DED protection 17 years ago.
In Liberia, she had completed her bachelor’s degree and was planning on beginning a foreign service career in Paris when the civil war broke out.
“We came to the United States with just a bag — not even a suitcase,” she said during the same conference call. “We ran.”
Once here, she worked in temp agencies as a bilingual customer service representative and office assistant.
“You name it. I worked my way up,” she said, emphasizing that she has never taken any public aid. “I put myself through school, and I became a nurse. … I would think that’s part of the American dream … you’ve created a life.
“Now to uproot us out of the United States and send us back to Liberia, it’s like making us refugees all over again.”