Obama extends Liberian immigration status


President Obama announced an 18-month extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status for Liberians in the United States on August 16, according to a press release from the Advocates for Human Rights. Some of the Liberians awaiting this decision have been protected by this status since 1991. Minnesota has a significant Liberian population.

“We welcome the President’s announcement extending DED,” says Michele Garnett McKenzie, advocacy director at The Advocates for Human Rights, “and we now urge Congress to move forward to enact legislation granting permanent residence to those Liberians who are in the U.S. under this temporary program.”

Legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House to grant permanent resident status to Liberians currently here on DED — S. 1202 and H.R. 2185 

Liberians fled during the country’s prolonged civil war, which ended in 2003. Liberia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, and Liberian leaders have called for continuation of DED because the country has no resources to handle massive returns, and relies on remittances from its citizens living abroad.

For background, see Liberia Is Not Ready 2010: A Report of Country Conditions in Liberia and Reasons Why the United States Should Extend Deferred Enforced Departure (February 2010), an Advocates for Human Rights report, and Liberians want to stay in Minnesota. Advocates for Human Rights also has a summary and explanation of proposed legislation.