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.
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.
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This brief was compiled by USRESISTNEWS Analyst Allie Blum: firstname.lastname@example.org.