Liberian Community in Minnesota Stage DED Solidarity Rally at State Capitol
BROOKLYN PARK, Minn.- Clinging hope on a 50-50 chance that U.S. President Donald Trump could pull an eleventh hour surprise and deliver a reprieve of sorts for thousands, Liberians in the Minnesota state capitol staged a massive rally Friday.
The fate of thousands of Liberians hinges on the approval or expiration of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) on March 31, 2019. DED is a temporary legal status renewed repeatedly over the last several years.
“We are getting more hopeful in the waning days of the deadline,” says Abdullah Kiatamba, Executive Director of the African Immigration Services and Co-Chair of the Immigration Union of Liberian Associations in America, one of the organizers of Friday’s rally.
The rally graced by the presence of state representative Mahmoud Noor, is organized along with the Union of Liberians in the United States to support and stand in solidarity with the community and thousands of Liberians whose DED status is now seriously being threatened as the deadline looms closer. The rally is a part of a larger campaign designed to create public awareness about the plight of Liberians on DED.
During the week of March 10, leaders of community groups and advocates will travel to the US Congress, to make a compelling case for DED, highlight the stories of DED recipients, and emphasize both the social and economic implications of the non-renewal of DED. The campaign seeks a two-year renewal of DED.
The Solidarity Rally included testimonies from those directly impacted by DED, community leaders, state officials and Congressional leaders. The event is organized by the Liberian Immigration Coalition in Minnesota. The group includes Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM), the African Immigrant Services (AIS), the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), the Liberian Ministers Association (LMA), Masjid Al-Ansar, among several others.
State Representative Betty McCollum, thanked Liberians gathering at the State Capitol in support of the rights to immigrants. In a statement read on her behalf said: “As a member of Congress, I strongly support passage of a long-overdue comprehensive immigration reform legislation to fix our broken immigration system. Additionally, I urge President Trump to extend the Liberian Temporary Status(TPS) and renew the Deferred Enforcement Departure(DED) for Liberian community.”
Several rallies have been held in recent weeks across the US in support of Liberians facing deportation.
Last month, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) took Liberian immigrant Linda Clark, who is one of many facing deportation, as her guest to the President Trump’s State of the Union address, in a bid to raise awareness of the looming crisis facing Liberians in the US.
Omar, a Somali Immigrant herself, said in a statement that her guest will be Clark, a Minnesota resident who has lived in the U.S. since 2000, after fleeing Liberia due to an ongoing civil war. “Linda is exactly the type of American success story we should celebrate. Someone who came to this country seeking a better life, played by the rules, and built a life for herself.”
Since 1991, Liberia has been continuously designated for either TPS or DED, due to unsafe country conditions preventing Liberians from safely returning. In 2007, President Bush directed that DED be granted to Liberian TPS holders, allowing them to remain in the United States for 18 months. Since then, DED for Liberia has been extended by all subsequent administrations -Democrat and Republican alike. Most recently, in 2016, the Obama administration extended DED for Liberia for 18 months through March 31, 2018. And, in March, 2018, President Trump provided one-year reprieve for DED.