Legal status for thousands of Liberians in US hangs on court decision


Tania Karas/The World |

A group of Liberian DED holders and their allies protest in Worcester, Massachusetts prior to a court hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Credit:
Tania Karas/The World

Yatta Kiazolu stood outside the federal courthouse in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, clutching a loudspeaker as she and a group of Liberian immigrants chanted:

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?”


“Now” is essential to Kiazolu and many other Liberians in the US.

As of March 31, 2020, some 4,000 Liberians, most of whom have been living legally in the United States for decades, will lose their legal status due to the Trump administration’s termination of a program that granted them temporary reprieves from deportation.

Most arrived in the US before or during Liberia’s civil wars, which spanned roughly 1989 to 2003 and killed nearly 250,000 people. The program is called Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED.

Kiazolu is a DED holder and 28-year-old PhD candidate studying history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Born in Botswana to Liberian parents, she came to the US at age 6.

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