New York (Globe Afrique) – In as much as the US immigration conversation is focused on the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the United States, those with Temporary Protected Status, little-known protection provided to other nationals including thousands of Liberians is on the brink of expiration.
This rarely-applied immigration protection is known as Deferred Enforced Departure, a designation made by the president to provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for nationals of another country when such is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to do so.
The most immediate protection for Liberians known as Liberia’s Deferred Enforced Departure is due to expire on March 31, 2019, forcing thousands of Liberians to be illegal in the United States. That means they will be ineligible for driver’s licenses, employment, and other immigration benefits. In other words, if no action is taken by the Trump administration, many Liberians who have lawfully lived in the United States for decades will find themselves suddenly without protection from deportation as well.
Although the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services reports suggest that 745 Liberians have work permits under Deferred Enforced Departure, but other estimates and the Liberian community in the United States estimates that the numbers of Liberians benefiting from the Deferred Enforced Departure protection from deportation are in the thousands. This excludes Liberians who briefly had TPS due to the Ebola epidemic as these are a distinct group of more recent arrivals who are mostly not eligible for Deferred Enforced Departure.