The United States has issued a one-year extension for Liberians living in the country under Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) provisions that have been in place for decades but were set to expire on Sunday.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he reconsidered the deadline set last year after the administration announced that the special status for thousands of Liberians living in the U.S. was no longer needed.
“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,” said Trump in his statement. “ The overall situation in West Africa remains concerning, and Liberia is an important regional partner for the United States.”
The White House added that reintegration of the returning Liberians was a complex task, one that could “undermine Liberia’s post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability.”
The new extension through March 30, 2020, also allows for U.S. legislators to work on alternatives. Earlier this month, some 50 members of Congress sent a letter to Trump asking for an extension of the DED provisions that have been in place since 1991.
“We believe that it is in the strategic national security, foreign policy, and humanitarian interest of the United States for this population to remain in the United States,” said the letter drafted by Senator Jack Reed and Representative Donald Payne.
“Moreover, for more than a quarter of a century the United States has been home to law-abiding and taxpaying Liberians. They have worked hard, played by the rules, and submitted to rigorous vetting. Uprooting them now would be cruel and harmful to them, their families, and employers.”
Image: Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage file