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Policy Summary

On Tuesday, March 27, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration will be terminating Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for the Liberian community. DED is a non-specific temporary immigration status that enables citizens from countries around the world experiencing conflict, natural disaster, or disease to live and work in the United States while the home country’s government restores living conditions. DED status was first granted to Liberians by President Bill Clinton in 1999 following the outbreak of Liberia’s second civil war, which lasted until 2003. Presidents George W. Bush  was the first to grant DED to Liberians as the country recovered from war, only to be raptured again by an Ebola outbreak in 2014. DED status will end for the Liberian community as of March 31, 2018. By that date next year, all will be forced back to Liberia. President Trump terminated DED for Liberians citing improved conditions in the country.

Liberians now join the ranks of  Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Salvadoran communities that face deportation from the United States in 2019 (January for Haitians, July for Nicaraguans, and September for Salvadorans, respectively). These groups are being forcibly removed from the US following the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a similar program to DED that enables citizens of other countries to seek refuge and employment in the United States while the home country heals from natural or man-made disaster.

While the exact number of Liberians living in the US under DED is not known, an estimated 800,000 Liberians were displaced by the civil war, some fleeing to the United States.

Analysis

The picture Trump paints of a stable, prosperous, livable Liberia contrasts the reality of the country’s conditions, according to the Liberian community and its advocates. While armed conflict has ceased, this does not change the fact that Liberians in the US under DED have started businesses and families and are important contributors to local and national economies. Like the Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Salvadoran populations in a similar predicament, many Liberians gave birth to children here, and those children are US citizens. Do they abandon their children at the hands of the Trump administration, or do they bring their children to an unfamiliar land?

The decision to end DED for Liberians further demonstrates Trumps commitment to purging immigrant communities with unfounded reasoning. As the country braces to say goodbye to hundreds of thousands of immigrants next calendar year, the social, political, and economic repercussions will be felt in all corners of this country and throughout the world.

Engagement Resources

Act with America’s Voice: America’s Voice is a progressive immigration reform nonprofit that advocates for full and equal rights of all immigrants. The organization runs numerous campaigns, maps incidents of hate against people of color, and assists with voter registration, amongst other activities essential to promoting equity for immigrant lives in the United States. You can make a contribution to America’s Voice here.

Support the Center for Migration Studies:  The Center for Migration Studies is a think-tank and educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers. You can support the institute through purchasing its publications or attending an event.

Stay Up to Date with the National Immigration Forum:  The National Immigration Forum is a DC-based nonprofit that leads the nation in constructive conversation and advocacy for the value of immigrants and immigration. The Forum is currently running a program called Immigration 2020, a multi-constituency effort to ensure that new Americans have the opportunities, skills, and status they need to contribute to the United States and realize their maximum potential. Join the organization’s email list to stay up date on all things related to immigration policy.

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This brief was compiled by USRESISTNEWS Analyst Allie Blum: allie@usresistnews.org.

 

 

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