With DED Extended, Liberians Look for Permanent Solution
The Trump Administration granted a one-year extension of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program on Thursday, allowing thousands of Liberian refugees to continue living in the U.S.
Now, the focus turns to finding a permanent solution for many of the Liberians in Minnesota.
The president initially wanted to end deportation protections. But in a letter released by the White House, Trump opted to reverse course, saying that “the reintegration of DED beneficiaries into Liberian civil and political life will be a complex task, and an unsuccessful transition could strain United States-Liberian relations.”
‘Not a Partisan Issue’
Local Liberians say finding a permanent solution will require help from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“We tried to make some connections with [Senator] Mitch McConnell and his office, and other Republicans to come to the aid of these people,” said Wynfred Russell, a Brooklyn Park City Council Member. “This is not a partisan issue. This is a family issue. It’s an economics issue. I mean, Brooklyn Park is going to be hit economically if nothing were to happen for these people.”
Russell says he plans to make trips to Washington over the next year to rally support for immigration reform.
“We were excited when we got the news, but that excitement lasted for about five minutes, because we have more work to do,” Russell said. “The work continues, and that is a pathway to citizenship for our people who are holders of DED. Many of whom live in Brooklyn Park.”
Brooklyn Center Mayor Reacts
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott also reacted to President Trump’s decision to extend DED. He sent this statement to CCX News:
An estimated 44% of Liberians who live in Minnesota are employed in the healthcare industry (eg; hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities), many of whom are on DED. Minnesota is already facing a labor shortage in the home health industry and would have faced further workforce challenges if the Liberian DED order expired.
The forced departure of these community members would have had a significant negative impact on many communities across Minnesota. And would have caused many families to be separated, residents forced into selling their homes, and the closure of businesses. The impact of forced departure would be difficult on Brooklyn Center and a number of cities, which together are home to the largest population of Liberians in the United States.
We believe there needs to be a long-term solution and are calling on all elected officials to work towards this goal. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in DC have indicated to me their support for a bill to create a longer-term solution for these families. Advocating for and achieving that goal fits one of our City’s objective of Safe, Secure, and Stable Community.