With three days left until Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status expires for the Liberian community, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) have introduced the bipartisan Protect Our Liberian Community Act.
The bipartisan bill would move Liberian DED holders to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), providing legal status to the community for three years. DED is set to expire on March 31st, which would subject thousands of Liberian workers and taxpayers to deportation. Liberians on DED have no pathway to citizenship.
“Liberians throughout Pennsylvania are an integral part of our community and I want them to continue contributing to it which is why I’m joining Rep. Phillips to introduce this legislation,” said Fitzpatrick. “By moving Liberian DED holders to Temporary Protected Status, they can continue to work here, pay taxes here, and most importantly, remain with their family.”
“We have worked long and hard to find a bipartisan fix to give our Liberian friends a reprieve,” said Phillips. “They have fled the horrors of civil war and the Ebola virus to become a vital part of the Minnesota community. Liberians on DED are here legally, they pay taxes, and they are the bedrock of our health care industry. Without them, our hospitals and care providers would not have enough workers to operate. Families would be torn apart. This is an economic issue and a human issue and I am grateful to Rep. Fitzpatrick for joining me to stand up for our beloved neighbors and keep them in their home – the United States.”
Liberians on DED have lived in the United States for 16 years or more and have demonstrated that they are law-abiding and taxpaying. Many own homes and businesses, and are hardworking employees for health care employers that are already facing critical workforce shortages.
When a series of brutal Liberian civil wars began in 1989, many Liberians fled to the United States. President George H.W. Bush extended TPS to Liberians in 1991. In 1999, President Bill Clinton introduced DED as a new immigration status for Liberian refugees. It has been renewed every two years by every subsequent President, including President Donald Trump, but is currently set to expire on March 31st of this year.