In addition to facing a myriad of lawsuits due to its immigration policies, the Trump administration was hit with yet another lawsuit two weeks ago over its decision to revoke a designation for immigrants, from several different countries which have been through hell, to allow them to stay in the United States without fear of deportation. So today, he did it again.
The administration announced on Tuesday that it was ending the “Deferred Enforced Departure” status of Liberians living in the country, giving them until the end of March 2019 to leave the country before they’re subjected to forced deportations. Liberia—a nation founded by American slaveholders who wanted to send freed slaves back to Africa so those who were still in chains wouldn’t get any ideas, which was engulfed in civil war for most of the fourteen years from 1989 to 2003, and is one of the poorest countries in Africa—is the only country whose citizens can currently stay here under this status. (Former President Barack Obama also granted Liberians, along with Sierra Leoneans and Guineans, temporary protected status for three years due to the Ebola crisis, but that designation expired last year.)
In a memo, Trump said that although 11,000 Liberians died from a contagious disease just a few years ago and just had its first peaceful transfer of power since the 1940s less than four months ago, everything is totally cool now:
Through consultation with appropriate executive departments and agencies and my advisors, I have been informed that conditions in Liberia have improved. 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. The 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease caused a tragic loss of life and economic damage to the country, but Liberia has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks of the disease.
Accordingly, I find that conditions in Liberia no longer warrant a further extension of DED, but that the foreign policy interests of the United States warrant affording an orderly transition (“wind-down”) period to Liberian DED beneficiaries. In consultation with my advisors, I have concluded that a 12‑month wind‑down period is appropriate in order to provide Liberia’s government with time to reintegrate its returning citizens and to allow DED beneficiaries who are not eligible for other forms of immigration relief to make necessary arrangements and to depart the United States.
“To see that Liberians in the United States have stabilized their lives — and I think that’s part of the American Dream and the pursuit of happiness — and still uproot us and send us back to Liberia will force us to become refugees all over again,” Minnesotan and DED holder Caroline Grimes said in a press call tonight reacting to Trump’s decision.
How many Liberians are actually in this program? An astronomical four thousand people, according to PRI. Which means that Trump telling Liberians they have to go is definitely in America’s best interests, and not just the manifestation of Trump’s desire to see America ridded of immigrants from “shithole countries,” which all just so happen to be populated by mostly black and brown people. Nope. Definitely not.
“To ask people who have been here since the late 1990s to leave is harsh, cruel, and disgusting,” Patrice Lawrence of the UndocuBlack Network added. “You have a large group of people who now feel unstable. We see this Administration’s relentless anti-immigrant policy and rhetoric as a concerted effort to make every immigrant undocumented.”