By Jim Walsh |
It’s been almost one year since President Donald Trump ordered an end to special legal status for certain immigrants from Liberia, and with that March 31 deadline fast approaching, the Minnesota Liberian community — the largest Liberian population outside of war-torn and poverty-stricken Liberia is sounding the alarm.
“All hands on deck,” Liberian community leader Erasmus Williams implored a crowd of about 50 Friday evening at the Liberian Community Center in Brooklyn Park, where state Sen. John Hoffman, D-Champlin, and others spoke about the urgency of the situation. Trump has threatened to end the program, called Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), which has allowed natives of the West African country to live and work in the United States since 2007. If the edict goes through, it could mean the deportation of hundreds if not thousands of the estimated 30,000 Liberians living in Minnesota.
“Today, we are here to witness history,” Williams told the gathered dreamers and would-be new Americans. “A history that we look forward to being duplicated by all states throughout the United States. And we know if this duplication takes place, definitely our result will come sooner than later. Last night, we had a very good teleconference with member chapters across the United States. So everything you see going on in Minnesota now, pretty soon you will hear people in Iowa having a meeting, people in Philadelphia having a meeting, seeing what they can do. With just a little faith, we can get it done.”
“We’ve been talking about how we do something to get the door open so people take notice,” Hoffman told the crowd. “And the first thing is to do a simple resolution, and that’s what I did — a simple resolution. One little resolution can open the doorway for other activities to happen, and the work that’s been done on this says to Congressman [Dean] Phillips and the other congressional leaders, ‘Look, in Minnesota, the state Senate says this is wrong and this is what we want to happen.’”
(In a separate act of support for Liberian immigrants facing potential deportation, another of Minnesota’s congressional representatives, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Fifth District, announced Monday morning that her guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address will be Linda Clark, a Liberian immigrant from Minnesota.)
Hoffman presented a resolution signed by members of the Minnesota Senate requesting an extension of DED, and last week the City of Brooklyn Park declared February “DED Awareness Month,” which includes a rally on Feb. 22. MinnPost took in the resolution reading and meeting, which was carried live on television in Liberia, in words and photos: