Monday, April 5, 2010

Ellison Applauds White House Action for Minnesota Liberian Community

Today Representative Keith Ellison thanked President Obama for taking swift action to extend Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians living legally in the United States. Ellison has long been a leader in Congress in fighting for the Liberian community in the United States. He recently met with leaders of Minnesota’s Liberian community to discuss the proposed extension of DED status and its importance to the thousands of Liberians residing in Minnesota.

“Liberian-Americans contribute to our communities in Minnesota. They are part of our society and they should be able to maintain their lives in the United States. The Administration granting Deferred Extended Status is a big win for Liberian-Americans — and for all Minnesotans,” said
Congressman Keith Ellison.

“As thrilled as I am about this decision, we have simply been given an 18-month reprieve,” said Ellison. “I plan to work with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress to find paths to citizenship for those Liberian families who wish to apply.”

Congressman Ellison and Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act in the House. The bill would allow Liberians who were brought to the United States legally under temporary protection status to apply for permanent residency. Ellison and Kennedy also helped lead the successful fight to grant DED to eligible Liberians in September 2007, authorized by President Bush, and again pushed for the one-year DED extension authorized by President Obama in March 2008. Without the extension, the previous DED protection was set to expire March 31, 2010.

In 1989, a civil war in Liberia displaced over half the country’s population and many Liberians sought refuge in the United States. More than 30,000 Liberians reside in Minnesota and an estimated 1,000 currently are living under DED status. Since 1991, these refugees have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status.

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