15 January 2013

Liberia: Give Liberians a Chance to Stay in America - U.S. Lawmakers Urge Pres. Obama

Sixteen senators of the United States Government, led by U.S. Senator for Rhode Island, Senator Jack Reed are urging U.S. President Barack Obama for Liberians residing in that country to be given a chance to continue staying there.

On August 16, 2011, President Obama granted Liberians in the United States an 18-month extension of their legal immigration status, which is set to expire at the end of March 2013.

Approximately a few thousand Liberians could be deported from the United States if their temporary status is not extended beyond the March 31, 2013 deportation deadline of the U.S. government. The senators' move which is in an effort to preserve the status of Liberians living legally in the United States, was contained in a recent letter co-signed by fifteen of Senator Reed's colleagues addressed to President Obama urging an extension and expansion of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

Senator Reed wrote: "Liberians have worked hard, played by the rules, paid U.S. taxes, and made positive contributions to our communities. They legally came to America to escape a brutal civil war and seek a better life for their children, many of whom are American citizens. They are here legally and should be given the chance to stay."

Backed by his Senate colleagues predominantly from the Democrat Party, Sen. Reed informed President Obama that: "The forced repatriation of Liberians from the United States would increase security tensions in Liberia and threaten the country's post-war recovery efforts. This extension will prevent these families from being torn apart while Congress pursues a permanent solution."

Senator Reed and his colleagues are also holding President Obama to his recent pledge to make immigration reform a top priority during his second term, by urging the U.S. President to include permanent resident status for qualifying Liberians in comprehensive immigration reform.

"In the short term, we need to lift the March deadline and extend DED. In the long term, we need to fix our immigration laws and extend permanent residency to Liberians who have been living here and playing by the rules," Sen. Reed's communication, which was backed by his 15 Senate colleagues concluded.

It can be recalled that since 1991, several Liberians residing in the U.S. have relied on short-term provisions of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or DED from the White House to extend their legal right to remain in the United States. These individuals, many of whom have been in the United States since fleeing Liberia in the late 1980's and early 1990's, have retained a legal status which allows them to live, work, and pay taxes in the United States.

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