WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is ending a program that allows citizens of Liberia living in the U.S. to avoid deportation. But it’s allowing a one-year “wind-down” period to ease their return.
Liberians have been eligible for Deferred Enforcement Departure since 1999. The program, which began under President Bill Clinton, and was extended during the Bush and Obama administrations, allows people from the country to live and work legally in the U.S. It’s similar to another program called “Temporary Protected Status,” which the Trump administration also has worked to scale back.
In a memorandum issued Tuesday, President Donald Trump said Liberia is “no longer experiencing armed conflict” and has made “significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.”
“Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” he wrote.
Right now, 839 Liberian citizens have valid work status under the program, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
To provide an “orderly transition” and give Liberia’s government time to “reintegrate” citizens who have to return, beneficiaries will be given a 12-month window during which they’re still allowed to live in the U.S. and work.
The protections, which Trump had until March 30 to renew, will now expire March 31, 2019.