At least 4000 Liberians living in the United States will be eligible for deportation from March 31 when the U.S. humanitarian relief protections for them expires at the end of this month.
President Donald Trump moved to end deferred enforced departure for Liberians last year, and there is no indication he would renew the program before the month runs out.
The Trump administration argues that the West African country is no longer mired in armed conflict and has sufficiently recovered from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and there is no justification for Liberian citizens to continue to seek protection in the United States.
However, the wars that shook Liberia for many years, and the Ebola outbreak, followed by humanitarian catastrophes, left the West African country in a state of chaos, and it would take many decades for substantial recovery to take place.
Basic amenities such as potable water or electricity as well as good healthcare are all missing.
Many of those to be deported have never lived in the impoverished African country, and would certainly die shortly after arriving there, having been used to the American standard of living.
It is estimated that more than 350,000 Liberians were displaced by civil war and fled the country.
“The program is set to end March 31, leaving an estimated 4,000 people vulnerable to deportation. Though DEDbears a strong resemblance to temporary protected status — another humanitarian program facing termination that would affect some 400,000 immigrants — it has largely been left out of the national conversation,” The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
Amongst those who may be deported is UCLA student Yatta Kiazolu, who has never lived in Liberia.
The 28-year-old PhD candidate in history at UCLA was born in Botswana to Liberian parents, has lived in the U.S. since she was 7, and since 2002 has maintained legal authorization under a humanitarian relief program, the program President Trump is ending, LA Times said, adding that civil rights advocates sued the Trump administration this month over the program’s termination, calling it racially motivated.
Kiazolu, one of the plaintiffs, also testified before Congress about how the program’s end will horribly affect her.
“My grandmother used to say, ‘When you do good, you don’t do it for yourself — you do it for God.’ And with that philosophy as my personal mantra, though the majority of my family are now permanent residents and U.S. citizens, I’m here for all the working-class immigrants on DED, TPS and [who] are also Dream-eligible,” she told the House Judiciary Committee on March 6, referring to protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, according to LA Times. “I’m here for all the young people like myself who have anxiety about their futures.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 15 Liberians and their U.S. citizen children, as well as two advocacy organizations for black immigrants.
Lawyers called the termination of protections unconstitutional and asked that the court prevent Trump from ending the program for Liberians.
“At every turn with this administration, we have seen immigration policies that are driven by racial animus,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups suing.
“Liberia experienced two nearly back-to-back civil wars from 1989, the year before Kiazolu was born, to 2003. Since 1991, the country has continually been designated for either TPS or DED at alternating points by Democratic and Republican administrations alike.
“It’s also the only country designated for DED, though citizens of China, El Salvador, the Persian Gulf region and Haiti have all previously received protections. Like TPS, the program allows people from countries devastated by natural disasters or war to work legally while they remain in the U.S.
“But unlike TPS, which is designated by the secretary of Homeland Security, DED is designated at the discretion of the president,” LA Times added.