On Tuesday, March 27, Trump sent a MEMO to Homeland Security stating, “I find that conditions in Liberia no longer warrant a further extension of DED, but that the foreign policy interests of the United States warrant affording an orderly transition (“wind-down”) period to Liberian DED beneficiaries. In consultation with my advisors, I have concluded that a 12 month wind down period is appropriate in order to provide Liberia’s government with time to reintegrate its returning citizens and to allow DED beneficiaries who are not eligible for other forms of immigration relief to make necessary arrangements and to depart the United States.”
On a recent call, conducted by UndocuBlack Network and America’s Voice Education Fund, advocates expressed their immediate concern regarding DED- Deferred Enforced Departure program. The Trump administration had until March 31, to decide whether to extend the program or allow it to expire which would leave many Liberian immigrants status uncertain.
On the call Rose Knuckles Bull, DED holder from New York, stated, “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. She continued, “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”.
The program was initially implemented in 2007 by President George W Bush and was extended by President Obama 7 times. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website currently reads, “Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is in the President’s discretion to authorize as part of his power to conduct foreign relations. Although DED is not a specific immigration status, individuals covered by DED are not subject to removal from the United States, usually for a designated period of time.”
Nancy Harris, DED holder stated, “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. Harris has been in the United States for 18 years, and came with her daughters to join her husband who is a mission pastor at a local church.”
Patrice Lawrence, National Policy and Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network, stated,
“the Liberian population is unique as 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.
Currently, 50 bipartisan members of Congress from both parties have sent a letter to Trump indicating their strong commitment to preserving the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) immigration program, which has allowed for many Liberians to lawfully live and work in the United States for decades.