Hours before Liberians were due to lose immigration protection, extension granted

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — On the eve of its expiration on March 30, the White House announced that Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED, for Liberia is extended until Jan. 10, 2021. DED provides protection from deportation and work authorization for thousands of Liberians who have been living in the United States for decades. This extension was needed in order to make it possible for many Liberians to be able to apply for green cards under a new law that went into effect in Dec. 2019, called Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness, or LRIF. 

“While this extension is a crucial measure of justice, we don’t forget that this latest development for the Liberian community became a necessary fix to a crisis the administration created,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s Advocacy Director. “The original termination of DED in 2018 without a plan in place has caused so much needless anxiety and suffering. There are consequences when immigration policy is not constructed in a thoughtful and humane way. We call on Congress not to repeat history for DACA and TPS holders.” 

While LRIF created a pathway for Liberians to get green cards and eventually become citizens, it did not provide continued protection and work authorization beyond March 30, when DED was set to end. Therefore, without additional action, potential beneficiaries would have been at risk of gaps in work authorization and protection from deportation. CLINIC and partner organizations wrote to the administration in January, explaining why either DED or comparable measures were needed for a successful implementation of LRIF. 

“This extension was needed both for potential beneficiaries and for our country as a whole in this moment of crisis,” Bussey added. “So many Liberian DED holders work in essential services, including health care. We take this opportunity to thank them and their families for their incredible service.”

Next, CLINIC will call on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to do the necessary outreach and public engagement to ensure that beneficiaries have the information they need, especially in these challenging times.