By Esme Murphy


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — United States Senator Tina Smith tells WCCO there has been a major breakthrough that will provide permanent status to thousands of Liberians in Minnesota and across the United States.

The Defense Authorization Act — which would keep those Liberians here — passed Thursday in the U.S. House. The U.S. Senate is expected to do the same on Monday, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

Last March, just days before a deportation deadline for Liberians with deferred enforcement departure status, or DED, they were given a one-year extension that allowed them to stay in the country. That deadline is set to expire in early 2020.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Have Any Other Home’: Thousands Of Minnesota Liberians Fear Deportation

Smith says the bill provides a path to citizenship in five years.

“This is really good news,” Smith said. ‘We have been working really hard to get to this point.”

Many Liberian Minnesotans were granted DED status in 1999 in response to the Liberian Civil War.

Esme Murphy

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