Rep. Phillips Delivers Letters from Two Thirds of the Minnesota Senate to Pres. Trump Asking for DED Extension

March 28, 2019
Press Release
Bipartisan group of Minnesota lawmakers appeals to Congress and the White House as deadline closes in

WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) delivered 48 letters to the White House from a bipartisan group of Minnesota senators today. The letters urge the President and Congress to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program for Liberian refugees before it expires on March 31, subjecting thousands to deportation. Fifty-five members of the Minnesota House sent a similar letter to the White House and Congress last week.

 

Minnesota is home to one of the largest Liberian populations in the country. Their integral contributions to the community and unique legal status prompted 19 Republican State Senators, including Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and 29 Democratic State Senators to join 55 State Representatives to call for their protection.

 

“Our Liberian neighbors, family members and coworkers have played by the rules, paid taxes and contributed to our community,” said Rep. Phillips. “That is why Republicans and Democrats should stand together in support of DED holders. I thank Minnesota Senators on both sides of the aisle for placing the best interests of our people and economy over politics and I urge my colleagues in Washington to do the same.”

 

Liberians have lived in Minnesota under special legal status for decades after fleeing bloody civil wars and the devastating Ebola virus. Republican and Democratic presidential administrations from Clinton to Trump have renewed DED every two years since it was introduced in 1999. Under current law, there is no pathway to citizenship for Liberians on DED.

 

In the north metro, Liberians make up a significant percentage of the health care workforce - particularly in caretaking roles where employers are already struggling with critical workforce shortages.

 

“This isn’t a partisan issue,” said Minnesota Senator John Hoffman. “It is bipartisan because this is a people issue. DED has protected Liberians for over a decade and during that time they became our friends and family. We stand together as we reach out to our President to not only extend DED to keep our communities whole, but to follow with a path to permanent citizenship so that those who became our family stay close to us always.”

 

"Our Liberian neighbors are Minnesotans — they contribute to our economy, our culture and our communities," said Minnesota Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman. "Ending the protections from DED will have detrimental effects on Minnesota, and most importantly, will have life-changing and even tragic life-or-death consequences for Liberians living in Minnesota."

 

Rep. Phillips has been a vocal advocate for Liberian refugees in Washington, introducing the bipartisan Protect our Liberian Community Act today that would prevent thousands of Liberians living legally in the U.S. from becoming undocumented and subject to deportation on March 31, and co-sponsoring the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (H.R.1169) to provide a pathway to citizenship for those same individuals.

 

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