Bowing To Intense National Pressure Trump Extends DED for Liberians

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Donald Trump bows to national pressure. Photo: Gage Skidmore--Flickr
 
Bowing to national pressure from civil rights organizations and facing a lawsuit President Trump today extended the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program for Liberians for 12 months, through March 31, 2020.
 
The decision came hours ahead of an emergency hearing in federal court in a lawsuit filed by the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Lawyers for Civil Rights calling for the administration to reverse its decision to terminate DED, a life-saving immigration program, for Liberian immigrants. The lawsuit, the first of its kind in the country, was filed on behalf of African Communities Together (ACT), the UndocuBlack Network, and over a dozen affected individuals, including Liberians raising U.S. citizen children. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
 
“This is a major win for families and communities impacted by the administration’s discriminatory decision to terminate a humanitarian relief program that provided a safe haven for thousands of Liberian immigrants who have been peacefully contributing to their communities and our economy for decades,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said. “This victory helps protect the rights of thousands of Liberian immigrants who faced the looming threat of deportation. While this relief is not final, it provides a reprieve for families who faced the risk of being torn apart.”  
 
Clarke added: “Ending DED was neither right nor lawful. It is no coincidence that this administration took this action weeks after the filing of our litigation and hours before an emergency hearing scheduled by the court in this matter.  As we continue to fight for full and final relief through litigation, we will continue to demonstrate the ways in which President Trump’s animus towards Liberians influenced his decision to end the DED program.”
 
Separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James said: “Today’s decision to extend DED for Liberian immigrants is a victory in our fight for fairness and justice. As the New York State Attorney General, I will continue to fight for the rule of law and to protect immigrant communities. For generations, immigrant communities have contributed mightily to our economy and our overall society and have played an integral role in our City. They deserve a pathway to citizenship and to remain in this country.” 
 
James joined a coalition of attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia in supporting Liberians who filed suit to block President Trump’s termination of their DED status. 
 
“This is a crucial victory,” said Amaha Kassa, executive director of African Communities Together. “Our members are celebrating because the shadow of imminent deportation no longer hangs over their heads. Credit goes to the brave Liberian DED holders and civil rights advocates who stepped forward to challenge this hasty and unjust termination. We plan to use this one-year reprieve to keep up the fight for Liberian DED holders and their families.”
 
“We are proud to stand with our allies and partners, including African Communities Together, UndocuBlack, and our courageous Liberian clients who have been living, working, and raising U.S. citizen children for nearly three decades in the United States,” said Oren Nimni, staff attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights.
 
Dennis H. Hranitzky, partner at Dechert LLP who served as co-counsel said: “We are proud to stand with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of Liberian nationals who have built lives, livelihoods, and families in the United States in the 20 years this life-saving policy has been in place.  This is an important, but only temporary victory, and we will continue this important work until the permanent safety and peace of mind of our clients is assured.”
 

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