President Barack Obama recently announced an extension of Deferred Enforced Departure status for immigrants who fled to the United States to escape Liberia’s civil war during the 1990s.
After arriving in the United States, Liberian immigrants were granted Temporary Protected Status, and when that expired in 2007, were allowed to stay in the country through a grant of DED. This grant was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2011, and President Obama has ordered it extended for 18 months.
Immigrant rights groups, faith-based organizations and human rights advocacy groups sent a letter to the president last June, urging him to extend DED for Liberian immigrants. The letter drew attention to the historical relationship between the two countries, noting that Liberia was founded by former American slaves who named the capital city, Monrovia, after President James Monroe. The letter also said deportation of Liberian immigrants would harm industries like long-term healthcare that employ large numbers of Liberians, and it described the economic instability, widespread violence and food scarcity currently plaguing the West African country.
Both houses of Congress have introduced legislation to extend permanent resident status to Liberian immigrants.
Liberians are the only immigrant group currently granted DED, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Six groups have Temporary Protected Status, including immigrants from Somalia, Sudan and Haiti.