By Josh Leach on April 1, 2019
Last week, nearly 4,000 Liberian immigrants with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status won an extraordinary reprieve from the threat of deportation. After cruelly moving to terminate DED last year, the Trump administration unexpectedly reversed direction, issuing an uncharacteristic memo in which they agreed to extend the program for an additional 12 months. The administration unveiled this decision just three days before DED was slated to expire on March 31, leaving families and communities in needless fear until the eleventh hour.
The administration’s unprecedented about-face shows the power of frontline organizing. Groups like the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and UUSC’s partner the UndocuBlack Network (UBN) have worked tirelessly over the past year to elevate the profile of DED holders and to hold the administration accountable for its unjust and discriminatory attempt to end the program. Not only have these efforts borne fruit in extending DED, they have also ensured that DED is included in proposed legislative solutions for immigrants whose legal status is jeopardized by Trump’s decisions.
This victory wins further time for advocates to press for these legislative protections. UUSC and our partners are working for the prompt endorsement and passage of the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) in the House, as well as the Dream Act of 2019 (S. 874) and the Secure Act of 2019 (S. 879) in the Senate. Together, these bills will create a path to permanent residency and citizenship for more than a million people whose lives have been thrown into turmoil by the Trump administration’s efforts to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and DED programs.
While this situation comes as a great relief, Liberian DED holders will face the same unnecessary and arbitrary deadline next year unless Congress takes bold and purposeful action in the interval. At the same time as we celebrate this week’s much-needed win, we must also use this moment to continue our efforts to create a permanent legislative solution for communities who have been needlessly placed at risk by Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.
Photo Credit: Unsplash – Fabian Fauth