On March 28, 2019 President Trump announced that he would extend Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians through March 20, 2020.
DED is a discretionary remedy granted by presidents to offer protection to certain noncitizens in the U.S.
Most Liberians with DED have lived here for decades, having first been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in March 1991, and seesawing between alternating periods of DED and TPS since then. In 2018, the President announced that DED for Liberians would end on March 31, 2019.
This extension notice is welcome news for Liberians with TPS, even if it came at the eleventh hour. However, it only grants them a temporary reprieve, rather than the certainty of a path to legal status after decades of putting down roots, raising children, and contributing to our nation’s communities and workforce. This Washington Post article puts a face on Liberian DED.
Bills have been introduced this month in both the House and Senate that would create an avenue towards permanent residency for these Liberians. The bills would also benefit the more than 300,000 individuals who have had TPS for years, and the over 700,000 immigrant youth granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) whose status was terminated by the administration. Presently only court orders are protecting DACA and TPS holders from losing their ability to live and work legally in the U.S.
With our shrinking workforce and birthrates nationally, and with unemployment in Maine remaining below 4% for more than three years, Maine’s Congressional delegation should make working to pass these bills a priority.