Local Liberians Lobby for Citizenship Pathway
Wynfred Russell, Brooklyn Park City Council member, joined other local Liberians in Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional lawmakers to push for new immigration legislation. The group hopes legislation could give Liberians here on Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status a pathway to citizenship. Currently, DED status expires at the end of March.
About DED Status
Liberians fled to the United States decades ago after a brutal civil war in their homeland. They are the only group still classified under the so-called Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status. This status has allowed Liberian immigrants to stay in the United States legally, for about 20 years.
However, President Trump terminated the program March 2018, saying Liberians had 12 months to return to their home country.
On Monday, representatives with the Liberian community met with congressional leaders to push for new legislation that would give them a permanent pathway to citizenship. They are also hoping lawmakers can influence President Trump and allow them to stay. Liberian leaders say if they are forced to leave it will have serious consequences on the local economy.
“Many of these people have planted significant seeds in Brooklyn Park, in the northwest suburbs, “ said Brooklyn Park Council member and Liberian-born Wynfred Russell. “Many of them own homes and businesses. They work in the healthcare industry that would be impacted significantly.”
Russell also does work with African Career, Education, and Resource Incorporated. He is helping to lead the charge for immigration reform.
“After 28 or 29 years of being here and contributing to the economy, that’s not temporary anymore,” said Russell.
Liberian leaders want DED extended for two years to give congressional leaders time to work on a permanent solution.