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Trump Changes Mind, Lets Liberians Stay in U.S. Another Year

— March 28, 2019

The president’s about-face came mere days before 4,000 Liberians faced deportation.

President Donald Trump made an about-face Thursday, extending protected status for Liberians in the United States for another year.

President Donald Trump made an about-face Thursday, extending protected status for Liberians in the United States for another year.

Reuters reports that many Liberians’ legal status was due to expire in less than three days, prompting panic and a flurry of lawsuits.

Trump, an immigration hardliner, ordered an end to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status for Liberians last year. According to Reuters, protection was first afforded during the presidency of George W. Bush. It allowed citizens of the West African nation to legally work and reside in the United States, simultaneously protecting them from deportation.

Approximately 4,000 Liberians reside in the U.S. under DED provisions.

A 2014 image of Donald Trump. President Trump has continued to make immigration a central platform for his presidency. Image from Flickr via Wikimedia Commons/user:Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Last year, Trump announced that DED would be subject to a year-long “wind-down” period. He set the program’s expiration as March 31st.

The move is in line with the administration’s efforts to rescind or weaken similar initiatives. Trump previously threatened the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of nationals of multiple countries, including Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador and Sudan.

TPS allows individuals fleeing natural disaster or persecution in their home countries to seek refuge and live lawfully within the United States.

Trump’s efforts to eradicate TPS protections were similarly met with litigation. The administration later related, extending TPS renewals or deferring action until a later date.

While the president’s about-face on DED offers reprieve to thousands of Liberians living within the U.S., it isn’t a permanent solution. In a memorandum issued by Trump, the commander-in-chief said he’d simply like to extend the wind-down period.

“Upon further reflection and review, I have decided that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to extend the wind-down period for an additional 12 months, through March 30, 2020,” Trump wrote in correspondence to the secretaries of state and homeland security.

The memorandum, notes Reuters, was publicly released by the White House on Thursday.

“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 and undermine Liberia’s post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability,” Trump said.

The president’s reasoning is similar to that made by immigration advocates fighting against the rescinding of TPS visas. In some cases, Central American governments themselves said they lacked the resources to process thousands of returning expatriates.

Even if Trump’s memorandum won’t assuage Liberians’ long-term worries, it could provide time for Congress to identify a legislative work-around. According to Reuters, Trump noted that lawmakers are already exploring ways to extend permanent legal status to Liberians, writing that his extension “will preserve the status quo while the Congress considers remedial legislation.”


Trump changes mind and extends Liberians’ immigration protections in U.S.

Trump extends Liberian DED status until 2020

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