Boston, MA – Today, President Trump extended the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program for Liberians for twelve months, through March 31, 2020. This decision comes hours ahead of an emergency hearing in federal court in a lawsuit filed by the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Lawyers for Civil Rights calling for the administration to reverse its decision to terminate DED, a life-saving immigration program, for Liberian immigrants. The lawsuit, the first of its kind in the country, was filed on behalf of African Communities Together (ACT), the UndocuBlack Network, and over a dozen affected individuals, including Liberians raising U.S. citizen children. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
“This is a major win for families and communities impacted by the administration’s discriminatory decision to terminate a humanitarian relief program that provided a safe haven for thousands of Liberian immigrants who have been peacefully contributing to their communities and our economy for decades,” Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This victory helps protect the rights of thousands of Liberian immigrants who faced the looming threat of deportation. While this relief is not final, it provides a reprieve for families who faced the risk of being torn apart.” Clarke continued, “Ending DED was neither right nor lawful. It is no coincidence that this administration took this action weeks after the filing of our litigation and hours before an emergency hearing scheduled by the court in this matter. As we continue to fight for full and final relief through litigation, we will continue to demonstrate the ways in which President Trump’s animus towards Liberians influenced his decision to end the DED program.”
“The UndocuBlack Network has arduously fought for the integrity, dignity and humanity of all undocumented Black people,” said Patrice Lawrence, National Policy and Advocacy Director for UndocuBlack Network. “This fight with our Liberian community has been long, hard and frustrating. Our work is personal and to that end we are very grateful for the support that our Liberian communities have gotten from our partners and allies. This win, though incremental, minute and still a termination of status, must be recognized as the monumental power of the people. The president overturned his own decision, we have more might than we can even begin to imagine. I am proud to lead this fight with you all.”
“This is a crucial victory,” said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director of African Communities Together. “Our members are celebrating because the shadow of imminent deportation no longer hangs over their heads. Credit goes to the brave Liberian DED holders and civil rights advocates who stepped forward to challenge this hasty and unjust termination. We plan to use this one-year reprieve to keep up the fight for Liberian DED holders and their families.”
“We are proud to stand with our allies and partners, including African Communities Together, UndocuBlack, and our courageous Liberian clients who have been living, working, and raising U.S. citizen children for nearly three decades in the United States,” said Oren Nimni, staff attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights.
Dennis H. Hranitzky, partner at Dechert LLP who served as co-counsel said, “We are proud to stand with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of Liberian nationals who have built lives, livelihoods, and families in the United States in the 20 years this life saving policy has been in place. This is an important, but only temporary victory, and we will continue this important work until the permanent safety and peace of mind of our clients is assured.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
Reynolds Graves, Lawyers’ Committee, RGraves@LawyersCommittee.org, 202-662-8375