Maple Grove Liberian Immigrant Celebrates U.S. Senate Vote
The holidays are looking brighter for hundreds of local Liberians. Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which creates a pathway to citizenship for Liberian refugees.
The 86-6 vote impacts hundreds of local Liberians on Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status. Liberians on DED, some of whom have been living in the northwest suburbs for nearly three decades, faced deportation because the policy was set to expire in March.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, which includes a provision to grant green cards to Liberian DED and Ebola TPS holders.
The news is a welcome relief for Magdalene Menyongar. The Maple Grove resident came to America in 1994 to escape the civil war in Liberia.
“They were killing people right in front of me,” Menyongar said.
“We Had to Stay Strong and Pray”
Menyongar moved to Detroit when she first arrived in America. She eventually met the love of her life and moved to Atlanta. They had a daughter, Gabriella. But, tragically, her husband was killed in a car accident. Menyongar then moved to Minnesota to be closer to family. She needed them even more now because of her immigration status.
“People looked me in my face and told me I was going to get deported,” said Menyongar, referring to what she heard in the community.
For years, she lived on the edge, living under a dark cloud.
“We had to stay strong and pray, that’s was another thing that kept us going.”
If the legislation hadn’t passed, the Liberian immigrant says she would have had to leave the country, leaving her daughter behind.
“Every time we thought about it, both of us cry,” explained Menyongar.
Menyongar’s daughter, Gabriella, is an American citizen and is now a senior at Maple Grove High School.
“It would have been hard. I do have family from my dad’s side in Georgia. But it would have been a hard process to try still going through school and graduate and everything,” the daughter said.
Meanwhile, Menyongar says she’s grateful for the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen.
“I can do everything I wanted to do as a U.S. citizen,” she said.
Currently a nursing assistant, Menyongar plans to apply for a green card and go back to college to be a nurse. The Maple Grove resident is also looking forward to traveling and visiting her parents in Liberia, something she couldn’t do before for fear she wouldn’t be allowed back in the U.S.
“This is the best Christmas ever,” she said.