Launch of Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Resource Hub

WASHINGTON, DC – African Communities Together joins the UndocuBlack Network in partnership to launch a landing page featuring important information for Liberian immigrants living in the United States. The website is focused on Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF), a program that allows certain Liberians and their family members to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents, obtain Green Cards, and eventually become U.S. citizens. Hosted on the official UndocuBlack Network’s website, the landing page provides information, tools and resources Liberians need to apply for LRIF. 

The site provides vital information, interactive tools, and multimedia resources and also showcases testimonial videos of successful LRIF applicants who have received their Green Cards to encourage more people to apply before the program’s deadline of December 20, 2021. During a time of limited communication and unclear guidelines from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this resource hub will serve Liberian immigrants applying for the LRIF program. 

The custom-created resource hub has curated content including an eligibility survey, updated application guidance, and a legal directory of low bono and pro bono attorneys specializing in LRIF representation. The new ‘Leave a question or comment section’ allows visitors to have their questions answered by UndocuBlack staff in a rapid response format. 

After years of advocacy by Black immigrants, LRIF was passed through Congress in December 2019, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Further advocacy led to an extension of the LRIF deadline to December 20, 2021. Since the program began, many applicants have been faced with lengthy processing times, unclear application guidelines, inconsistent adjudications, logistical hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lack of access to legal and financial assistance. Many potential applicants have been left skeptical of the program and its promise of lawful permanent residence. 

On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum to the secretary of Homeland Security extending Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians until June 30, 2022 in order to provide eligible Liberians more time to apply for LRIF. However, after more than a year of hindered implementation the number of LRIF applicants remains too low and processing remains stagnant: as of April 2021, only 3248 applications have been received by USCIS out of what may be 10,000 eligible Liberians. Out of that number, only 666 have been approved, 111 have been denied, and the remaining 2,470 are still pending before USCIS.  

Although the LRIF resource hub is meant to encourage and prompt users to apply for adjustment of status, it also provides a glimmer of hope and camaraderie by highlighting that Liberians do not have to attempt to adjust their status alone—many others are in the same boat. 

Diana Konate, Policy Director at African Communities Together says, “African Communities Together is thrilled to have been invited to partner with UndocuBlack in producing this vital resource for the Liberian community.  The website provides a wealth of information and our hope is that Liberians find it accessible and easy to navigate.  The LRIF program took years of advocacy and we have only a few short months to ensure its success.  This resource hub is sure to aid in that effort.”

Patrice Lawrence, Co-Director of UndocuBlack says, “This resource hub is intimate and personal by design as it is created for the Liberian community  who may benefit from the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) --- the Liberian green card bill that was decades in the making.  At UndocuBlack, we  took particular consideration into the struggles and the day-to-day lifestyle of those who may be under LRIF.  UndocuBlack.org/lrif is written in style to circumvent the convoluted heavy legal and immigiration language, the everyday burden of living under the expiration date, the wariness of having to live with broken promises of elected officials, having to pinch pennies and work multiple jobs to save for the application fee, the unclear guidelines from the USCIS...We think this page will better communicate with LRIF recipients because it was created by us for us and users will get to tap into vast resources .”

Breanne Palmer, Policy and Community Advocacy Counsel at UndocuBlack says, “With the December 2021 deadline for LRIF looming, this resource hub will equip our community with updated information and insider knowledge. This resource hub is about access—it gives our community major insight into our policy and legal advocacy, and we hope it will encourage everyone who is eligible for LRIF to apply. We want permanent protections for our community, and LRIF is the canary in the coal mine for the Biden Administration: let's make sure 10,000 Liberians gain status so that we can make our dream of status for all 11 million undocumented community members a reality.” 

Yoliswa Cele, Director of Narratives and Media at UndocuBlack says, “The LRIF program was hard fought and hard won but the legislation is only the first step—we now have to make sure the program benefits the community in a substantial way. At UndocuBlack, we firmly believe in establishing accessibility and empowering communities through information so creating a platform that can serve as an information hub for all things  LRIF is a UBN value in action. The hope is that our landing page can serve as an example of  people-centered accessible information dissemination to government institutions like USCIS.”

 

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