The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is urging US President Donald Trump to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) temporary immigration benefit for Liberians; and work with Congress to grant those Liberians on DED a permanent status.
The Association in a press release issued recently, said the lives of many of the DED recipients are so deeply ingrained in the American society that ending the immigration benefit will cause them severe emotional and economic hardship.
ALJA said the affected Liberians, many of whom have resided in the United States for more than 20 years, are very well integrated in their local communities, have established families, bought homes and are making significant contributions to different aspects of the American society.
The Association further noted that Liberian DED recipients are not liabilities to the US economy, but assets.
ALJA observed that the current high unemployment in Liberia and the continuing challenge the country has with providing basic medical, social and educational services to its citizens could be made even worse when thousands of Liberians are made to involuntarily return home if President Trump fails to extend the DED.
Thousands of Liberian DED beneficiaries face the stark choice of leaving the United States or becoming undocumented when the temporary immigration benefit expires on March 31st.
The Association said it considers the possible deportation of these Liberians as inhumane and counterproductive to America’s values of protecting children and keeping families together.
As a result of the now ended Liberian civil crisis, hundreds of Liberians in the United States were granted Temporary Protctive Status (TPS) in 1991 and 2007, before the TPS designation was changed to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
This ensures that a decision to grant DED comes directly from the US President as opposed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Liberia and the United States have a long-standing historical tie which dates back to 1822 when free slaves from the US founded the nation as a colony in West Africa.
Anxiety continues to grow amongst the thousands of Liberian TPS/DED beneficiaries with the looming of the March 31 deadline for the expiration of the temporary immigration benefit.
Reportedly many of the affected Liberians have begun receiving notices for termination from the employers, while parents whose children are US citizens are left wondering about the fate of their children should they be forced to return to Liberia.
Meanwhile, ALJA is commending Liberian advocacy groups and community organizations engaged in lobbying efforts with members of the US Congress as well as local authorities to extend the TPS/DED benefit and ensure a pathway to permanent status for the affected Liberians.
A week ago, groups from Minnesota and other parts of the country travelled to the US Capitol to solicit congressional support for the extension of the TPS/DED.
Also, the Association is urging all Liberians irrespective of their immigration status to join the ongoing efforts to ensure the extension of the TPS/DED.
Additionally, ALJA wants the different groups involved in the ongoing campaign to work in unison to ensure a successful outcome noting that “there is strength in numbers”