Liberians on DED (Deferred Enforcement Departure) in United States could face deportation come March 31, 2009 which is the expiration date of their Immigration status.
Every year Liberians go through this immigration nightmare, which I find very disturbing in keeping with social justice ethics and the public church theology that calls for welcoming strangers and treating them justly realizing that “you too were once strangers or aliens” (Exodus 23:9).
As we know, most American ancestors came to this country before 1921 as strangers and when there was no law to restrict their entry into the US.
I understand that there are immigration laws but in exercising those laws people should be mindful that your ancestors were once strangers to this country as all immigrants are today.
Liberians on DED legally entered the United States due to the Liberian civil conflict and were granted the warm American hospitality under the TPS.
It is important to note that what all immigrants have in common in US is the will power, courage and work ethic. However menial a job immigrants in this country work hard put food on the table and to provide a better life for their children. Liberians are not any different.
President George W. Bush was kind enough to extend the Liberian DED for two years but the extension ends soon. Many good-will Americans are indeed passionate about helping all Immigrants including Liberians on DED. Please join this initiative and help our Liberian Community.
I am concerned and worried that the termination of DED will cause families within the Liberian Community to separate. Parents will be forced to live their American-borne children behind with friends or relatives who might not provide the appropriate care that could potentially create social problems. After making United States of America their second home, Liberians will be forced to leave their jobs, abandon their homes, leave behind their benefits, and take their children out of school should they decide to take them to Liberia.
I am concerned and worried that the termination of the Liberian DED would result to an involuntary repatriation or deportation. After spending 20 plus years resettling and rebuilding lives shattered by war in Liberia it would be traumatic and disheartening to send a recovering community back to Liberia. Liberians returning to their country, angry and dissatisfied with its state of affairs could undermine the current peace-building efforts resulting in another political unrest. This is highly undesirable at a time when Liberia is still struggling to rise from the ashes of war and fostering truth and reconciliatory relationships.
I do know for sure that Liberia is still not ready to absorb a large number of repatriated Liberians. The new leadership under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is still struggling with high unemployment resulting to high rate of crimes and the high presence of former fighters leads to a volatile security situation. A broken infrastructure has also resulted in a shortfall of housing, medical, water, and electricity.
I am concerned and worried that the termination will cause economic hardship for Liberians both in United States and Liberia because most families in Liberia depend on their families in the USA for survival.
I do know that the U.S. Congress has a unique history of adjusting to permanent residency migrants who had been in the U.S. on Temporary Protected Status. In 1988, Congress passed a law allowing four national groups to adjust to permanent residency status: 4, 996 Poles who had been here for four years; 387 Ugandans who had been here for ten years; 565 Afghanis who had been here for eight years; and 1, 180 Ethiopians who had been here for eleven years.
Liberians will return home one day, but not under such conditions that would put families at risk. We are only appealing for consideration to stabilize the lives of Liberians whose status is unsecure while they are on DED. Please help and God will bless you for helping people who are in desperate need.
Fr. James N. Wilson, II
Priest-in-Charge, St. Philip & St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Saint Paul, Minnesota
A Liberian requesting your help on behalf of Liberians on TPS/DED