WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) applauded President Obama's announcement today extending Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to Liberians for 18 months. Liberians living in the United States who received the temporary extension had fled a bloody civil war and many built new lives in Rhode Island, having children, starting businesses, buying homes, and paying U.S. taxes.
"I applaud President Obama for extending DED for Liberians for another eighteen months. Liberians have become part of the fabric of communities across the United States, especially here in Rhode Island. They have worked hard, played by the rules, and paid U.S. taxes. Many have children who are U.S. citizens and this extension will prevent these families from being torn apart," said Senator Reed, author of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, who led the effort urging President Obama to lift the March 31st deadline and prevent thousands of Liberians from being deported. Reed has who has worked for over a decade to pursue a fair pathway to citizenship for Liberians who came to the United States seeking humanitarian relief.
"President Obama's decision to allow Liberians living in the United States to remain temporarily in this country for an additional 18 months is a big step in the right direction. This will surely come as a welcome relief to Rhode Island's wonderful hardworking Liberian community, but we still must find a permanent solution," said Whitehouse. "I'll continue working with Senator Reed to create a clear opportunity for displaced Liberians to become American citizens."
Since 1991, thousands of Liberians have relied on Temporary Protected Status or DED being granted by Republican and Democratic Presidents to extend their legal right to remain in the United States. Liberians have been living, working, and paying taxes in the United States, but have been ineligible for the benefits afforded to other taxpayers.