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Hoyer, Engel, Bass, House and Senate Democrats Call on President Trump to Allow Liberian Refugees to Remain in the United States

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (NY-16), House Foreign Affairs Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Subcommittee Chairwoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Anthony Brown (MD-04), and House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Rep. David Trone (MD-06) in sending a letter to President Trump asking that he take action immediately to prevent several thousand Liberians with Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) status from being deported from the country.  These refugees, who came here in recent years fleeing civil war and disease outbreak, are facing a March 31 deadline to have their DED status extended.  This is the result of the President’s decision last year to terminate their DED status with a twelve-month wind-down period.  However, as the letter’s authors note, forcing these individuals to leave the country would be devastating to communities where they have contributed to local economies and become integrated into civic life. 

“Given the dangers of deadly disease outbreak and violence in Liberia and its neighboring countries, it would be irresponsible to force these individuals and their families to return at this time,” the authors of the letter write.  “…Liberians currently under DED protections contribute positively every day to their communities and our economy.  We believe that it is in the strategic national security, foreign policy, and humanitarian interest of the United States for this population to remain here at this time.”

To read the letter in full, click here or see below.

March 22, 2019

Dear Mr. President:

We write to ask that you take immediate action to extend Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for several thousand Liberian nationals who were admitted to the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and are now facing a March 31 deadline to leave the country.  We ask that you extend DED status for Liberians so that they can continue to legally reside in the United States given the instability in Liberia. 

In 1989, a seven-year civil war broke out in Liberia that would claim the lives of over 200,000 people and displace more than half of the Liberian population.  During the conflict, food production ceased, large populations were internally displaced or fled the country as refugees, and Liberia’s infrastructure and economy were destroyed.  A second civil war followed from 1999 to 2003.  It ended with the departure from power of former President Charles Taylor, who is currently serving a fifty-year prison sentence for war crimes.  Subsequently, between 2014 and 2016, Liberia faced an extensive Ebola viral outbreak that killed an estimated nearly 5,000 of the over 10,000 persons who contracted the disease.  The outbreak devastated the country’s fragile health care system, infrastructure, and economy while exacerbating social tensions.  As a result of these uniquely tragic developments, thousands of Liberians were forced from their homes.  Many fled to neighboring countries, while some sought refuge in the United States. 

Given the dangers of deadly disease outbreak and violence in Liberia and its neighboring countries, it would be irresponsible to force these individuals and their families to return at this time.  Liberians legally residing in the United States, if sent back, could overburden the country’s limited infrastructure and reverse the advances that the Liberian people and government have made.   Liberians currently under DED protections contribute positively every day to their communities and our economy.  We believe that it is in the strategic national security, foreign policy, and humanitarian interest of the United States for this population to remain here at this time.  

We hope you will take this request under prompt consideration.  We stand ready to provide you with any additional information you need and hope you will look carefully at this issue and issue a new DED extension for these individuals and families before the end of the month. 

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your timely reply.

Sincerely,

STENY H, HOYER House Majority Leader

ELIOT ENGEL Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee

KAREN BASS Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

BEN CARDIN U.S. Senator

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN U.S. Senator

ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS Member of Congress

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER Member of Congress

JOHN P. SARBANES Member of Congress

JAMIE RASKIN Member of Congress

ANTHONY G. BROWN Member of Congress

DAVID TRONE Member of Congress

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