An Editorial by Wayne D. Doe, Chief Editor and Partner, Voices Magazine…
From all indications regarding the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since May 2017, the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for nationals of Liberia, a small West African country with unprecedented historical, economic and national security ties to the United States for over 170 years may end. And if it ends, thousands of Liberians will be subject to removal from the United States. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could not have made it clearer at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on January 16, 2018. She said, “We are going to enforce the law. If there is a final order for removal, we will seek to remove you,”
While the Secretary is responsible to end the TPS as in the case of Haiti, El Salvador and the Ebola-affected countries in recent times, DED, also temporary, is at the President’s discretion to “authorize as part of his power to conduct foreign relations,” according to the DHS website. This designation is not a specific immigration status. Liberia is the only country on DED currently. The designation was made by President Bush after nearly 12 years of TPS for Liberians ended in 2003, and President Obama subsequently continued the designation subject to a 2-year renewal period.
What has been critically apprehensive for Liberians is the uncertainty of renewing the designation every 1-2 years for the past almost 30 years, yet demonstrating resilience to achieve the American dream. Liberians have contributed immensely to the American economy and raised American children that have served or are serving in the US military; some have become scholars, doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, civil servants, entrepreneurs, and other.
Over the years, few lawmakers introduced bills, and advocates have supported efforts to include the Liberian DED into the more complex comprehensive immigration issues, but that was like putting a needle into a haystack that does not stick out, but just roll around with the haystack. The President’s power now exclusively comes into play. Will he continue the temporary DED designation, or grant permanent immigration status to those affected, or will he end it and put it in the haystack for Congress to decide what is next? Perhaps, the President will show love as the U.S. continues to benefit from foreign relations with the little African country that has always helped the U.S. when called upon and grant its DED recipients a path to citizenship.
Wayne D. Doe
Chief Editor & Partner