MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A crisis in the Liberian community in Minnesota was averted Tuesday after President Donald Trump extended a program that grants Liberian immigrants temporary protected status.
The decision allows them to live and work in the United States another year without fear of deportation.
Abdullah Kiatamba, the executive director of African Immigrant Services, says his prayers were answered when he received word from the White House that Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians has been extended until March 31, 2019.
The news affects about 4,000 Liberians in Minnesota.
On Monday, hundreds of Liberian immigrants rallied inside and outside the state Capitol.
If the program had expired this weekend as scheduled, it would have meant work permits and driver’s licenses of those affected would no longer be valid and deportations could have been imminent.
“There is a whole domino effect that would take place in ways that are so traumatic, destabilizing, terrifying for a lot of people,” Kiatamba said.
Leaders in the Liberian community say Rep. Erik Paulsen (R – 3rd District) played a key role in getting the Trump administration to agree to the extension.
However, a long-term problem remains.
Paulsen and Rep. Keith Ellison (D – 5th District) are working on a bill that will provide Liberian immigrants a path to permanent legal status, something that currently doesn’t exist.