On March 27, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) program, which is estimated to impact 4,000 Liberian-Americans who have lived in the United States for decades. The Trump administration announced that those enrolled in DED will have one year before their protected status expires.
Although this decision to end DED is not surprising, it is absolutely devastating. As Sen. Tina Smith states, “This decision will rip families apart. It goes against who we are as a nation. It means we’ll lose employees, innovators, and community leaders that make Minnesota — and our country — a better place.”
The state of Minnesota is home to roughly 30,000 Liberian-Americans who are business owners, health care providers, and above all, long time residents of the Twin Cities. Just as the Twin Cities has been the home to many Liberians who settled after fleeing from civil war, the Twin Cities has always been a home for me. Unlike my neighbors of the Twin Cities, I don’t have to worry about leaving everything I’ve worked for these past few years behind, and I don’t have to worry about being separated from my family come March of 2019.
I am only 25 years old, and many members of the Liberian community have lived in the United States longer than I have been alive, bringing forth this question: How long does a person, not initially born in the United States, have to live in this country, pay taxes towards things they will not benefit from, and how many contributions do they have to make before our country grants them citizenship?
The United States should not be forcing hardworking community members to leave. Rather, we need to be providing more permanent paths towards citizenship.
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