The United States said Tuesday it is ending its long-standing protected status policy for Liberians, one that allowed them to continue living in the U.S. under one of two programs dating back to 1991 and the civil war.
“I have been informed that conditions in Liberia have improved,” said President Donald Trump in a statement issued by the White House. “Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.”
The country, which just marked the end of the United Nations mission there, has completed its reconstruction from prior conflicts and now is able to handle the return of its nationals, the U.S. said. Liberia also has recovered from the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak and is able to manage future outbreaks.
The DED and Temporary Protected Status policies were extended by every U.S. administration since former President Bill Clinton in 1999. One of the largest Liberian communities is in Philadelphia, with about 15,000 people, according to the Philadelphia Folklore Project. A sizable population lives in Minnesota as well.
Since Liberia no longer warrants another Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) extension, a 12-month transition period will begin on March 31, when the previous extension expires, the White House said. It will remain in place until March 31, 2019, for Liberians who have lived continuously in the U.S. since October 1, 2002.
Trump said the one-year window is “appropriate in order to provide Liberia’s government with time to reintegrate its returning citizens and to allow DED beneficiaries who are not eligible for other forms of immigration relief to make necessary arrangements and to depart the United States.”
That one-year grace period does not apply in certain cases, including people who already have been deported or those deemed to be a risk to the U.S. as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.
To view the complete White House statement, see this link.
Image: Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage