Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians, a humanitarian relief program similar to TPS (Temporary Protected Status), will terminate on March 31, 2019 according to a formal memo released by President Donald Trump. Liberian DED was set to expire on March 31, 2018. President Trump announced that there will be twelve-month wind down period to ease the transition for as many as several thousand Liberians – many of whom have been in the United States for close to twenty years.
The DED program for Liberians was initiated by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and has been renewed in one form or another by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama – until now. Prior to the announcement, approximately 50 bipartisan members of Congress asked the President to extend the DED program for at least three years to allow Liberia to strengthen its infrastructure and stabilize following two ruinous civil wars and the Ebola outbreak. But President Trump responded in his memo that “Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.”
President Trump’s decision to terminate the program is similar to the decisions he has recently made regarding DACA and TPS for individuals from Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua, among others. As with DACA, the President again noted that “[o]nly Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status for those currently protected by DED who have lived and worked in the United States for many years.”
USCIS will automatically extend employment authorization documents for six months until September 30, 2018, for current Liberian DED beneficiaries who have EADs expiring on March 31, 2018. To obtain work authorization for the final six months, beneficiaries will have to apply for employment authorization. Updates on how to apply will be published in the Federal Register likely within the week.