A provision in the nation’s annual defense policy bill would extend the protected immigration status for thousands of Liberians, according to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
The Rhode Island Democrat said Thursday the National Defense Authorization Act includes his provision to allow eligible Liberians to continue living legally in the U.S. and apply for citizenship.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the compromise version of the bill Wednesday. It’s expected to pass the Senate. President Donald Trump has said he plans to sign.
Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his provision would impact about 4,000 immigrants who came from the African nation to escape environmental disasters, the Ebola virus and war.
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, also a Rhode Island Democrat, introduced companion legislation in the House. Rhode Island has a large Liberian population.
Trump said last year that he would end the humanitarian program that allows Liberians to live and work in the U.S. because conditions in Liberia have improved. In March, the Republican president signed a one-year extension, days before it was set to end. Reed said then that Congress should enact a more permanent resolution.
He said Thursday that Congress is providing certainty and security for Liberians, while helping foster Liberia’s post-war recovery.