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Immigration Crisis: Dozen of Liberians in US Face Deportation

U.S. children born to Liberian parents urging immigration relief for their parents and relatives

ONTARIO, CANADA —Reports reaching Globe Afrique say about 200 Liberians are allegedly in prisons in the state of Minnesota, the USA awaiting deportation.  Four Liberians were deported yesterday, November 17, 2017, leaving behind young children. About 55 Liberians could be deported from Minnesota soon, according to unconfirmed sources.

The Organization of Liberians in Minnesota hosted an Immigration forum and the deportation statistics were provided.

These deportation statistics and information are only being revealed about Minnesota; no other deportation information or data is being obtained from other U.S. states with significant Liberian population.

Some leaders in various Liberian community across believe similar secret deportations of Liberians in other States are said to be ongoing.

Multiple Immigration lawyers across the U.S. apparently have informed their Liberian clients that the once Liberian TPS/DED safe alibi may not be extended therefore Liberians in such situation needed to know their rights as ‘refugee’.

Advocacy groups are urging Liberians in similar circumstances to know the nature of their Immigration case and should not be deceived into paying money to any immigration services representatives unless they were sure of the options available.

One immigrant advocate said every Liberian Immigrants organization must pay attention to the Immigration crisis facing the Liberian Diaspora community.

Several Immigration lawyers have also told many of their Liberian clients to call Congressional leaders in whose districts they live and tell them to support the extension of TPS/DED in view of Liberia’s political and economic crisis.

Several Liberians in the U.S. had been granted provisional asylum known as the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which later turned into Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) due to the country’s prolonged political and related crisis that lasted from 1989 to 2003. Both the TPS and DED were repeatedly renewed by successful U.S. administrations from President Bill Clinton to President Obama. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the following release on Liberia’s TPS and DED status.

Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Liberia

On September 22, 2016, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the decision to extend TPS benefits for Liberia under the current designation for 6 months for orderly transition before the TPS designation of Liberia terminates. The termination will become effective May 21, 2017.

After reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer support their designations for TPS. The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended, no longer preventing nationals from returning to safety.

To provide for an orderly transition, nationals of Liberia (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia) who have been granted TPS under the Liberia designation will automatically retain their TPS and have their current Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) extended through May 20, 2017. Beneficiaries do not need to pay a fee or file any application, including for work authorization, in order to retain their TPS benefits through May 20, 2017.

Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting May 21, 2017, TPS beneficiaries will continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS. DHS urges individuals who do not have another immigration status to use the time before the termination becomes effective in May to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.

Liberia is presently vulnerable politically and economically as a result of poor governance and widespread public theft and corruption across all aspects of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  After 12 years peaceful rule and much international support and increased, the Sirleaf’s administration has failed to change an old culture of official graft, nepotism, and misrule. In fact, international and local observers believe Liberia has become more corrupt under President Sirleaf than other administration since its independence in 1847.

Unemployment is estimated at 85 percent, access to basic social services is lacking; the road condition has become worse with construction companies awarded contracts to pave and renovate roads serving as a front for corrupt officials and people with influence and close to the Liberian presidency.  One Nigerian-owned construction called the Praise Glory Lawal (PGL) Construction founded by an ex-Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeeping soldier is accused of serving as a front for Liberian officials and others in laundering more than $18 million United States dollars out of country without fulfilling the road construction projects for which the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning paid such amount over time.

It is alleged that the president has used certain government agencies, including the National Security Agency headed by her step-son, Fumbah Sirleaf to fund clandestine political and related private activities.

Meanwhile, as Liberians worry about the political, economic and social stability of their nation, President Sirleaf whose terms ends on January 18, 2018, is more concerned about naming national edifices in the country after her name.  Sources reaching Globe Afrique say the Liberian president who is obsessed with honors and awards, plans to rename the country’s international airport from the Roberts International Airport to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf International Airport.  This announcement is to be made shortly and to be followed by an official ceremony.

President Sirleaf (center) being guarded by a throng of security detail

Less than two weeks ago, the Liberian leader was awarded several honors in Imo State, Nigeria, including the erecting of a statue in her honor by the state governor.  But the traditional leaders of the Igbo tribe in the state termed the honoring of President Sirleaf as a “discretion” on grounds that both she and South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, are unworthy to receive such honors from the people of the state.  Both President Zuma and President Sirleaf are hated at home and widely considered as corrupt and out of touch.

With deplorable conditions in Liberia, Liberians being deported would be subject to inhumane conditions, hardship, poverty and probable psychological problems.

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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.
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