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With Time Running Out, Rep. Phillips Presses for Legislative Fix to DED on the House Floor

Phillips: “There’s an empty net and all we have to do is tap in the puck.”

With 4 days left until Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status expires for the Liberian community, Rep. Dean Phillips pressed the House to take legislative action tomove DED holders to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for three years and give Congress time to pass a more comprehensive solution.

Click here to view Rep. Phillips’s remarks

Below are Rep. Phillips’s remarks as prepared:

Madam Speaker, the clock is ticking and thousands of Minnesotans are running out of time.

Business owners are going to lose their workforce.

Workers are going to lose their jobs.

Children are going to lose their parents.

And it will be because we – in Congress – failed to take simple action when we were called to make a change.

We’ve been handed a game-winning layup.

There’s an empty net and all we have to do is tap in the puck.

All we have to do is say to our Liberian population – who came here fleeing bloody civil war and the terrors of the Ebola virus – that you matter!

You are doing everything right.

The world took everything from you and you came to our country, you work hard – legally – you pay taxes, you are valued members of our community.

But because we gave Liberians an immigration status – DED – that does not allow a pathway to citizenship…

And because that status expires in FOUR DAYS…

These friends, neighbors, and family members will be subject to deportation.

It will tear our community apart.

And it will be on us.

Madam Speaker, I recently heard from Nicole Mattson, a health care employer in senior care back in the Twin Cities.

“We don’t have enough workers,” she said.

“At my facility, 60% of employees are immigrants and over half of those are Liberians.

We would have to say goodbye to a pool of talent that is highly skilled and educated.

I have no idea why we would leave behind such a critically important group of people to the health care industry.

Very simply, we cannot do the work, we cannot care for people, we cannot care for seniors without them.

We need them here, and we’re glad they’re here.”

Madam Speaker, I would say that we need “courage” to pass a legislative fix to save Minnesota’s health care industry and keep hardworking members of our population home…

I would say we need “courage” to keep our families and communities and brothers and sisters together…

But this is so simple and so easy that we don’t even need courage! We just need to pass a bill.

These are immigrants who have done everything the right way.

They are here legally.

They work hard. They pay taxes. They have made themselves irreplaceable contributors to our communities.

Their immigration status has been extended by every president from Clinton to Trump.

These would be undocumented citizens of our own creation!

And if you need the human argument, hear it from my constituent Michael:

“Going back to Liberia is not an option for me. My only brother, who we were not able to bring to America, died in Liberia, a few years ago. My parents and siblings all live here in the US.

I was recently accepted into a doctoral program in education. My whole life is here.  This is my home.  Liberia is a fragile country still recovering from a decades-long war.”

Or Matthew who could lose his older brother:

“It affects me, deeply, as a US citizen, this is someone I look up to. If he was to up and leave the US - that would be very difficult for him, for me. He has a daughter. I cannot take on that responsibility of being my niece’s caretaker.

I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare this will create in my community. This is not just about me and my family, it’s about our community. We are going to be losing friends and family. I am not ready for this.”

We have the legislation. We have a fix ready to go, to move DED holders to TPS for three years while we pass a more comprehensive fix.

So, colleagues, ask yourselves:

Are you here to make a difference?

Are you here to make peoples’ lives better?

Are you here to help our business owners? Workers?

Or are you here to keep playing politics with peoples’ lives?

Let’s rise to the occasion and be better than that, and finally, at long last, let’s give our Liberian community the peace of mind they richly deserve.

Thank you and I yield the balance of my time.