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Senator calls end to Liberian protection 'shameful'

Minnesota's Smith and Klobuchar criticize President's decision on deportation rules.

Posted: Mar. 27, 2018 4:14 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is ending a program that allows citizens of Liberia living in the U.S. to avoid deportation. But it's allowing a one-year "wind-down" period to ease their return.

Liberians have been eligible for Deferred Enforcement Departure since 1999. The program allows them to live and work in the U.S.

A memorandum issued by President Donald Trump Tuesday says conditions in Liberia have improved substantially and that the country has made "significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance."

To provide an "orderly transition" and give Liberia's government time to "reintegrate" its returning citizens, beneficiaries will be given a 12-month window during which they're still allowed to live in the U.S. and work.

The protections for all Liberian beneficiaries will now end March 31, 2019.

Minnesota’s two U.S. Senators issued the following statements on the President’s decision:

Tina Smith (DFL) - “Minnesota is now home to one of the largest Liberian-American communities in the country, some 30,000 people strong. It’s their home. And today's news that President Trump decided, effective March 31, 2019, to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberia—the program that allowed survivors of Liberia’s bloody civil war to stay in the U.S.—is shameful.
“For the overwhelming majority of people this decision affects, there is nothing to go back to in Liberia. The U.S. is the only home many of them have ever really known.
“This decision will rip families apart. It goes against who we are as a nation. It means we’ll lose employees, innovators, and community leaders that make Minnesota—and our country—a better place.
“I’d been pressing this administration to extend DED for Liberians. Just last week, I met with Secretary Nielsen, who heads the Department of Homeland Security, to ask her to extend DED, and I followed up that meeting with a call to the White House to underscore just how important this is. And I’ll continue to make the case and will press the administration to reverse this decision. Between now and March 31, 2019, my office will work with the affected communities in Minnesota and provide all the assistance we can.”

Amy Klobuchar (DFL) - “Minnesota has one of the largest Liberian populations in the country – and many of them have been in our state for decades serving as business owners, teachers, and healthcare workers. These are hard-working people who came to the U.S. legally, have remained here legally, and play a major role in Minnesota’s economy, in particular helping to staff our hospitals and nursing homes. Ending their status (which dates back to President H.W. Bush) and deporting them is the wrong decision. We have a year before the status expires and during that time I will do everything to find a solution for these families. Options include passing legislation and getting the Administration to reverse its decision.”

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