NEWS DIGEST – President Donald Trump on Thursday unexpectedly extended an immigration designation granting protected status to Liberians for an additional year, just three days before the status was to expire.
Trump in 2018 ordered an end to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) eligibility for Liberians, a status first granted to them during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush that enabled the immigrants to work.
It also protected Liberians from deportation.
Trump declared a one-year “wind-down” period, which set the final expiration date of the status as March 31.
But on Thursday, Trump said he had changed his mind.
“Upon further reflection and review, I have decided that it is in the foreign policy interest of the U.S. to extend the wind-down period for an additional 12 months, through March 30, 2020,” Trump said.
Trump said this in a memorandum to his secretaries of state and homeland security that was released by the White House.
“The reintegration of DED beneficiaries into Liberian civil and political life will be a complex task, and an unsuccessful transition could strain U.S.-Liberian relations and undermine Liberia’s post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability.”
A coalition of Liberians with DED status and immigration advocacy groups sued the Trump administration this month in federal court seeking to stop the termination of DED.
The groups estimate that some 4,000 Liberians in the U.S. are protected by DED.
Trump’s decision eliminates the “emergency” the Liberians were living with, said Erasmus Williams, a Liberian community leader in Minnesota, which has a large population of Liberians.
“We have ample time now to work through Congress to have legislation passed that will create a pathway to citizenship for Liberians on DED,” he said. (Reuters/NAN)