14 January 2013

Liberians in America Battling Deportation

Thousands of Liberians who fled the country to the US for safety during the Liberian civil war have begun campaigning once more for the Obama administration to grant them additional reprieve.

The scores of thousands of Liberians in this category may be sent back home after the 18-month the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) expires in March 2013. The DED has been extended several times, with top US Government officials, especially lawmakers, and the Liberian Government appealing for more time before Liberian can return home.

Though the country has enjoyed a decade long peace and held two democratic elections, many Liberians in the US feel; that country is not year ready to absorb them in the face of high unemployment, lack of functioning electricity and employment market. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who herself had encouraged Liberians abroad to return home and rebuild their country, has also previously appealed to the Obama and previous administrations to let her people stay in the US for a while as Liberian becomes better to attract them.

Currently, Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) is heading a for organizations sign the NGO-Sign on Letter to President Barack Obama, seeking for the extension of DED.

The coordinating committee of the advocacy, led by the Advocates for Human Rights, has extended the deadline to sign the NGO Sign on Letter until noon on Friday, January 18, 2013.

The Chairman of the National Immigration Task Force of ULAA, Mr. Sam Togba Slewion, explained that on Friday, December 14. 2012, the Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with other partners, including ULAA initiated the campaign for civic and advocacy groups to sign on the NGO Letter seeking for the extension of the DED to stop the deportation of Liberians who are presently on a DED reprieve for 18 months, which is expected to expire on March 31, 2013 .

Slewion explained further that since the expiration of the initial deadline on January 4, 2013, more groups have requested to be part of the campaign.

He added that this (March 31st) is the final deadline and "we want every organization wishing to support the Liberian DED cause, especially Liberian organizations, to sign on before the final deadline expires."

Slewion explained that Senator Jack Reed and 15 other United States Senators have already submitted the usual "Dear Colleague" Letter to President Obama, making the case for the extension of DED for Liberians.

"We need to show our support to our ally," Senator Reed and his colleagues said.

"It is our hope that more organizations, especially Liberian organizations and friends of Liberia, will sign on the NGO Sign-On Letter more than what we had the last time," Chairman Slewion pleaded.

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