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Rep. Phillips Leads on Legislation to Protect Liberian Refugees

As March deadline approaches, Phillips offers permanent solution for thousands of families

Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) announced today that he is an original sponsor to the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, H.R. 1169, aimed at providing legal status and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Liberian refugees. Phillips represents a large and vibrant Liberian community and has been a consistent advocate for Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

“Minnesota is home to the largest Liberian population in the United States, and I’m proud to represent the vast majority of them,” said Phillips. “. “They are our extraordinary neighbors, friends, care givers, and local business owners. Minnesota is their home. Uprooting them after decades of living and working in our community would be inhumane and would cause extraordinary disruption to our local economy. If Pres. Trump does not reverse his Executive Order, it is incumbent upon Congress to quickly ensure that our Liberian neighbors are protected from deportation.”

President Trump terminated DED by Executive Order last year. On March 31, 2019 over 4,000 Liberian DED holders, many of whom have called the United States home for more than 20 years, will become undocumented citizens and subject to deportation unless legislation is passed to protect them.

The United States has been home to thousands of law-abiding, taxpaying Liberians for more than a quarter of a century, after Liberian families sought refuge in the United States following deadly civil wars in 1989 and 1999-2003, and during the lethal Ebola virus outbreak in 2014-2016. They were first granted Temporary Protected Status in 1991, and since that time, subsequent Democratic and Republican Administrations have extended DED status for Liberians in recognition of the danger and instability in the region.

In January, Phillips insisted that protections for Liberian DED holders be included in a shutdown letter authored by House freshmen to Speaker Pelosi before he agreed to sign it. Last week, Rep. Phillips personally petitioned Speaker Pelosi and authored a letter to appropriations conferees requesting that a DED extension be included in any conference committee agreement.

Phillips joins Reps. David Cicilline (RI-01) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05) as an original co-sponsor of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act. Rep. Phillips will attend a rally headed by the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota next Friday, February 22. Last year’s event drew hundreds of Liberian and immigration advocates to the State Capitol.