ADVOCATES APPLAUD BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S DESIGNATION OF LIBERIA FOR DED, PROTECTING UPWARDS OF 10,000 LIBERIAN IMMIGRANTS

DED provides work permits and protection from deportation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2021
Press contacts: Assefash Makonnen, African Communities Together,
assefash@africans.us and Bethelhem Teame Negash, UndocuBlack Network,
bethelhem@undocublack.org.

Washington, D.C.–Liberian immigration advocates commend the Biden administration for Day One action on multiple, urgent issues affecting Liberian immigrants caused by the previous administration–specifically the extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) until June 30, 2022 for Liberian noncitizens and undocumented immigrants in the United States. This DED extension will provide temporary protection from deportation, work permits, and an extended opportunity for Liberians to apply for relief under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness
(LRIF). The Trump administration’s botched implementation of LRIF, compounded by COVID-19, and previous termination of DED for Liberia left thousands of Liberian nationals without protection and in danger of deportation and family separation.
In addition to an extension of DED, the Biden administration also ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to evaluate the way U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented the LRIF program. Due to mismanagement and implementation problems at USCIS, only a few thousand of the more than 10,000 eligible people had been able to apply before the previous deadline, which was extended by Congress following advocacy from the impacted community and allies. To learn more about how USCIS must address systemic
issues with the program, see the LRIF Strategy Group’s transition recommendations to the Biden administration here.

Diana Konate, Policy Director, African Communities Together, stated: “We're
thrilled that the Biden-Harris administration has made protecting Liberians a Day One priority! DED protection for Liberians is immensely important as thousands continue to apply for their Green Cards through the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) program. We are also happy to see the call for a full review of LRIF's implementation. There finally appears to be a commitment to the success of this program.”

Patrice Lawrence, Co-Director, UndocuBlack Network, stated: “We needed an
extension of Liberian DED so that those eligible for Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF), the Green Card program for Liberians, could have protection and maintain income as they go through the application process for LRIF. We are unreeling from 4 years of chaos, and so we welcome the Biden Administration’s compassionate beginning on this matter. We are happy about the 18 month extension, but we know DED is just the baseline.

Unfortunately, we cannot rest, there is just too much to do to achieve justice. The previous administration relentlessly attacked Liberian communities by ending DED the first time, placing roadblocks in the implementation of LRIF, and most recently allowing DED to lapse in the final days of their term in office. We will continue to hold the Biden Administration accountable to ensure a full administrative review, repeal of the harsh policy guidelines for applicants and success of LRIF implementation for all 10,000 eligible people, even if that means extending the current deadline beyond December 2021.”

Jill Marie Bussey, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
(CLINIC)
stated: “We commend the Biden administration for its swift action for Liberian immigrants, who were left in an incredibly vulnerable position by the previous administration. The LRIF program is the first legalization program in a decade and its success is vital for individuals and families who have called the U.S. home for many years. Extending DED gives people the protection they need to apply for LRIF and for the program to meet Congressional intent.”

Pamela Roberts, Citizenship and Family Unification Staff Attorney, HIAS
Pennsylvani
a, stated: “Some of my LRIF applicant clients are frontline essential workers during the pandemic. They work in healthcare and in supply chain jobs, ensuring delivery of food and other necessities in their communities and across the country. Closing this gap in work authorization is vital. I applaud the Biden administration for recognizing the criticality of this issue and making it a Day One priority. I join my colleagues in celebrating this Executive Order, which also directs DHS to review the LRIF application procedures as they have been administered during the past year to smooth the process going forward. At the same time, we
recognize that much remains to be addressed in immigration reform, and this pathway to citizenship presents an important model for that larger discussion.”

Deirdre Giblin, Immigration Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute,
stated: "Thousands of Liberians make up our community in New England, and for more than two decades, they have lived legally under short-term humanitarian programs allowing them only to plan their lives in increments of 12 to 18 months at the president’s discretion, so we are thrilled that their precarious situation has been recognized and prioritized by the Biden administration and look forward to this community establishing permanent roots absent fear of
deportation and separation from their families."

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee Immigration Ministries, stated: “Again during the pandemic, we’ve seen Liberians among the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) family demonstrating the best of this country’s values; providing food to their neighbors of all backgrounds and offering comfort to others even while facing fears due to protections cruelly removed. We celebrate the Biden Administration’s action on Day 1 to remove fears and dignify the centuries’ old partnerships between Liberians and the U.S. by reinstating DED and work authorizations that respect the contributions Liberians make in our
congregations and communities every day.”

Michele Garnett McKenzie, Deputy Director, The Advocates for Human Rights,
stated: “After 30 years of living in limbo, we are thrilled that the Biden-Harris Administration has made stability for Liberians a Day 1 priority and set the stage for successfully implementing permanent residence for Liberians. Liberians have served as a backbone of healthcare delivery during this time of crisis. After decades in our communities, Liberians are parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. We welcome the Administration’s commitment and look forward to ending a very long period of uncertainty for thousands of Liberians.”

 

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