Hundred of Liberians and sympathizers in the Twin Cities, gathered on the steps of the state Capitol for a rally on March 26, 2018 in support of extending a federal deportation reprieve program for Liberian natives known as Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED. The program is slated to expire at the end on March 31, 2018. Eight of 10 members of Minnesota's congressional delegation wrote to President Trump urging him to extend it.
The Twin Cities Liberian community's push for an indefinite extension to a deportation reprieve program for Liberia natives came up short as the Trump administration announced Tuesday it will end the program in 12 months.
The program, Deferred Enforced Departure, DED, offered work permits and deportation protections since 2007, replacing another temporary reprieve program put in place during Liberia's brutal civil war in the 1990s. The administration for the first time revealed Tuesday that only about 840 people nationally now have work permits through the program, suggesting the impact of its cancellation might be more limited than feared by local Liberian leaders.
Liberians in the metro, which hosts one of the largest West African enclaves in North America, mounted an active lobbying push in recent months to save the program. They argued its cancellation would deal a blow not only to the community but also to local nursing homes and other care facilities, where many Liberians work. Eight of the 10 members of Minnesota's congressional delegation signed a letter to President Trump urging him to extend the program.
But a Department of Homeland Security official said it was time to wrap up the program, which the official said was intended to provide only a temporary reprieve.
"It's up to Congress now to come up with a permanent fix," the official said, invoking 1998 legislation that opened a path to citizenship for Haitians who were on DED at the time.
The administration in recent months has set out to end similar temporary reprieve programs for several Central American countries, signaling a shift in the government's approach. Because of that track record, local advocates had braced for a decision to end the program and had hoped for a relatively lengthy wind-down period.
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