United States President, Donald J. Trump’s move to end special protected status for Liberian immigrants living in the United States, seems to be unbending, despite series of appeals from advocacy groups in the United States including some congressional members, the end of their stay is getting closer by the day on March 31, 2019.
In his official White House memorandum last year, the U.S. President said, “Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance,” Trump said.
There had been trepidation among Liberian communities in the US because the deadline for the administration to extend their protections was due on 31 March and there had been an ominous silence from the White House. On Tuesday, Trump confirmed their worst fears.
Some Liberians have been eligible for either Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure since March 1991 due to civil war, fragile political and economic conditions and an Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 in Liberia, the memorandum said.
“Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” Trump said.
Liberians, some of whom have been in the United States for decades, are now worrying over their unceremonious departure from a country they cherished over the years.
Few weeks ago it was reported that the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is facing a lawsuit filed by two civil rights organizations over his March 2018 decision to terminate the Deferred Enforced Departure program (DED) which has over a decade allowed Liberians and other nationals to live and work in the United States.
The termination of DED for Liberians is likely to take place at the end of March.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 15 Liberian immigrants in the U.S.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Lawyers for Civil Rights filed the lawsuit in federal court in Boston.
The lawyers fear that President Trump’s decision would break families apart, adding that it is unconstitutional, based on ethnicity, race and national origin. They noted that Some of the Liberian immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens.
“Defendant Trump has a history of bigoted remarks and actions that make clear that he holds racial animus against immigrants of color,” according to the lawsuit.
DED protects about 4,000 Liberian immigrants who escaped the civil war which occurred between 1990 and 2003 and the Ebola Virus Disease which struck the country in 2014.
“We will not stand idly by as immigrants of color are threatened with detention and deportation,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, in an emailed statement. “We will not allow the Trump Administration to trample on our dignity and our constitutional rights. We will resist all forms of discrimination, and we will hold the Trump Administration accountable for attacking Liberian families.”
In addition to the 15 Liberian immigrants, the organizations African Communities Together and the UndocuBlack Network are named as plaintiffs.
Separately on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced an 18-month of extension of another blanket form of humanitarian relief called Temporary Protected Status for fewer than 100 people from South Sudan. The department said in a press release that “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions” in the African nation justified the extension to Nov. 2, 2020.
The decision was a mixed bag for South Sudanese because it applies only to those in the United States continuously since May 3, 2016. More recent arrivals are ineligible.
The Trump administration has ended Temporary Protected Status for several other countries but faces legal challenges. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the administration on withdrawing the benefit for people of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.