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White House to wind-down protected status for Liberians

President Trump is directing his Departments of State and Homeland Security to bring an end to a humanitarian program that allowed for some Liberian nationals to have temporary residence in the United States. 

The grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians who would otherwise be removed from the U.S. was last extended by President Obama. However, it was due to expire on March 31. Mr. Trump is ordering that the deadline be extended for one more year as part of a "wind-down" effort before DED is official terminated for Liberian nationals. 

In a memo signed by Mr. Trump, the administration now finds that conditions in Liberia have improved and is "no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance." 

The memo added, "Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals."

A brief history of DED

Started in 1991 in part through a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), certain Liberian nationals were eligible for DED, which allowed them to flee their country as a result of armed conflict and civil war and reside in the United States.

In 1999, the Clinton administration first authorized DED for a 1-year period after a civil war had ended. According to the White House, after the armed conflict came to a close in 2003, TPS for Liberians effectively ended in 2007, but President Bush then directed that DED be provided for 18 months to certain Liberians in the U.S. whose TPS was due to expire. Bush further directed Homeland Security to issue procedures for granting work authorization to DED-covered Liberians.

Under the Obama administration, DED was extended several times including in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and in 2016 due to "compelling foreign policy reasons." 

Who's qualified?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you are eligible for Liberian DED if you:

  • Are a Liberian national, or someone with no nationality (stateless) who last resided in Liberia;
  • Are in the United States;
  • Have lived in the United States since October 1, 2002;
  • Had TPS on September 30, 2007;
  • Were covered by DED on September 30, 2016; and
  • Are not otherwise ineligible for DED as stated in President Obama's directive dated September 28, 2016 

What's next

DHS will now conduct a 12-month wind down period in order to provide Liberia's government time to "reintegrate its returning citizens and to allow DED beneficiaries who are not eligible for other forms of immigration relief to make necessary arrangements and to depart the United States."

During the 12-month window, certain current Liberian DED beneficiaries may remain in the United States, but Liberians are now likely to face deportation after the expiration of their protected status. 

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