Local Liberians Celebrate Pathway To Citizenship
Liberians and lawmakers gathered in Brooklyn Park to celebrate the new law that gives people from the West African country a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
On Dec. 20, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to grant green cards to Liberians who fled two decades of civil war and the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Area Lawmakers Celebrate Liberian Pathway to Citizenship
On Saturday night, the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center was filled will laughter, music and a sense of relief. Several dignitaries were on hand, including U.S Rep. Dean Phillips, DFL-3rd District.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” he said. “It’s a wonderful example of what a community can do together. It wasn’t about politics and it wasn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It was about doing what’s right.”
“It’s like a big, big weight that has been lifted off our shoulders,” said Brooklyn Park City Council Member Wynfred Russell.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith worked with the Liberian community to help get the legislation passed.
“Not only are we out of this limbo that our neighbors have been living in for so many years, but we have a path to citizenship in five years,” said Smith.
Maple Grove Liberian Elated
But for many people in the crowd, the celebration was decades in the making.
“It is a big deal for me,” said Maple Grove resident Magdalene Menyongar.
Menyongar came to the United States in 1994 after the civil war in Liberia.
“This will make me to be able to go back home and see my mom and see my siblings that I have been separated from for all these years.”
She worried about deportation because her Liberian protected status was about to expire. Her 18-year-old American daughter would have been left here alone. Now, Menyongar’s future is much brighter. She will apply for a green card and wants to go back to college to become a nurse.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is accepting green card applications until Dec. 20, 2020. Liberians are not eligible if they have been convicted of any aggravated felonies.