Nearly four,000 Liberians are the most recent in an extended line of immigrant teams to lose humanitarian protections below the present administration after President Donald Trump introduced March 27 that he would end Deferred Enforced Departure standing for the West African nation.
“We have lost the shock and awe of such heartless decisions, but to come during Holy Week of all weeks displays a heartbreaking callousness,” mentioned Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, in a March 29 press launch. “Jesus Christ walked his path of Passion and then was crucified for all, especially those on their own journeys and far away from home.”
Couch’s group was certainly one of 119 faith-based organizations and 509 religion leaders to signal a letter to Trump March 22 asking him to prolong the standing for at the very least 18 months previous March 31, 2018.
The signers, which additionally included the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), Faith in Public Life, a number of orders of Catholic sisters, the Franciscan Action Network and the Jesuit Social Research Institute, requested Trump to have “compassion” and warned failure to prolong the standing might separate households and ship Liberians again to a rustic that’s unable to safely obtain them.
Christy Williams (Courtesy of Catholic Legal Immigration Network)
Christy Williams, an legal professional on CLINIC’s advocacy workers and herself a Liberian immigrant, instructed National Catholic Reporter that simply because the nation was slowly rebuilding its infrastructure and financial system after many years of civil unrest, the 2014 Ebola epidemic “set the country back tremendously” by diverting sources and driving international corporations away.
“Liberia relies heavily upon foreign aid and remittances from its diaspora,” Williams mentioned. “Sending an additional 4,000 people back to Liberia at this time, the country just cannot handle it.”
In distinction to these claims, a memorandum from Trump directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to terminate this system March 31, 2019, mentioned that situations in Liberia have improved with the end of armed battle and the restoration of stability and democratic governance.
The memorandum additionally claimed Liberia was ready for “the return of its nationals” as a result of it had “concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts,” and “has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks” of Ebola.
But some advocates rejected this rationalization, as a substitute attributing the choice to racism and xenophobia.
“The president’s crude comments about African nations are fresh in our memories,” mentioned CLINIC government director Jeanne Atkinson in press launch March 27. “This is another racially motivated step to dismantle our humanitarian immigration program.”
Trump made these “crude comments” in early January when a bipartisan group of lawmakers approached him with an immigration compromise that might have devoted visas to Temporary Protected Status recipients and underrepresented African international locations.
Since Trump took workplace, his administration has scheduled the end of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador, eradicating safety from practically 250,000 individuals, whereas extending it for the lower than 6,000 standing recipients who come from Syria and South Sudan. Decisions for Nepal, Honduras, Yemen and Somalia are anticipated earlier than the end of summer time.
The newest resolution will add to “the growing list of long-term, work-authorized, tax-paying immigrants — now totaling more than one million people — whose future in this country is now uncertain,” mentioned Oscar Chacón, government director of advocacy community Alianza Americas, in a March 27 press launch.
“The cancellation of DACA, TPS, and now DED demonstrate that the administration is blindly following a nativist agenda … Sadly, xenophobia has been put ahead of the economic interests of this country, the security of our region, and our nation’s long-held values of family unity,” Chacón added. (DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and applies to individuals dwelling within the U.S. with out documentation who have been introduced as minors.)
Liberia is the one nation at the moment lined by Deferred Enforced Departure, which, like Temporary Protected Status, permits immigrants who’re in any other case undocumented to keep within the U.S. and apply for work permits so long as their nation stays designated.
Unlike Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Enforced Departure selections are up to the president somewhat than the Department of Homeland Security, and immigrants are mechanically lined with out making use of, though they do apply for employment authorization.
While at the moment 745 Liberians maintain work permits below this system, group teams estimate about four,000 profit from safety towards deportation, mentioned Williams.
Liberians have acquired both Temporary Protected standing or Deferred Enforced Departure since 1991. Deferred Enforced Departure was most just lately granted by President George W. Bush in 2007, then prolonged in 12, 18 or 24 month increments ever since.
This implies that some Liberian beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure have possible been within the U.S. for greater than 25 years. All who’re at the moment eligible have been within the U.S. for over 15 years, since Oct. 1, 2002.
“They’ve established themselves, they’ve bought homes, they have U.S. citizen children who only know the U.S. to be home. They are really rooted in the U.S. society and other than their immigration status they’re really Americans,” mentioned Williams. “Having to go back to a country that they have not lived in for decades … I can’t imagine that it would be an easy transition for any person who has lived here for so long and built a life here.”
Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberia was scheduled to expire March 31, 2018, however might be allowed a year-long “wind-down period.”
In the meantime, mentioned Williams, CLINIC and different teams will proceed pushing for a legislative resolution that permits Liberians to keep within the nation. The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) would provide sure Liberians a path to citizenship, as would another payments that additionally defend Temporary Protected Status recipients, she mentioned.
Terminating “humanitarian immigration programs in the U.S. that keep families together does not serve the common good and that is not who we are as Americans,” Williams concluded. “CLINIC continues to call for the implementation of policies that continue to support family unity … I hope that others out there can see the benefits of helping our immigrant brothers and sisters stay here and integrate and continue to support their families.”
[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is [email protected]]