She fled Liberia’s civil war 24 years ago. Now Trump wants her to go back

Gabrielle Gworlekaju, right, with her mother, Magdelene Menyongaro, at home in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Photograph: Jared Goyette

Gabrielle Gworlekaju, 16, is a sophomore in high school in Minnesota, a cheerleader and an A student. She wants to pursue a career in medicine and, in about a year’s time, she’ll begin the process of choosing a university.

There’s one person she leans on more than most for advice in such decisions – her mother, Magdalene Menyongaro, 48, who came to the US from Liberia 24 years ago, fleeing the country’s civil war. Gworlekaju and Menyongaro live in a modest apartment in the north-west suburbs of Minneapolis, an area which has the largest concentration of Liberians in the country. The hub of the Liberian community is in Brooklyn Park, a city of about 79,000 people that has roughly 52 Liberian churches and as many as 7,000 Liberian residents. Gabrielle’s father, also Liberian, died in a car wreck about three years ago when she and her parents lived in another state. In fact, the accident is what inspired Gabriel to want to pursue medicine.

But Gworlekaju, who was born in the US, is afraid that by the time college acceptance letters start arriving, her mom won’t be around to read them – at least not in person. Menyongaro is one of roughly 4,000 Liberians in the US who hold a protected immigration status known as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

Many Liberians have been covered by either Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or DED from the US government since 1991, the power of which rests with the office of the president.

But last Tuesday, after months of fearful speculation and the program set to expire on 31 March, the Trump administration announced it plans to end DED. Trump will allow beneficiaries one year to get their affairs in order before they have to leave the country voluntarily or face deportation.

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Source: The Guardian Online

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