During the 14 year civil war in Liberia, desperate Liberian civilians were given sanctuary in several countries, including the United States. That is what usually happens when innocent civilians must flee their country because of warfare. Tens of thousands of Liberians were given sanctuary in the United States as well. Those who were allowed to come to the US have lived here for nearly two decades. On March 31, 2009, that temporary protection comes to an end, and the United States is preparing to return these refugees and legal immigrants in mass numbers to a country that has yet to recover from the bloody civil war.
On March 31, 2009, mothers will be sent home away from their children; fathers will be torn apart from their American born children; families will be forced to once more abandon their new life in America to be forcefully returned to a home that is now nearly forgotten. Young people that came of age in America will also be torn away.
Send President Barack Obama a message that it is inhumane to bring African refugees out of danger, keep them here in the US for nearly two decades and return them to their devastated homeland. America is home for them today. Forcefully returning them is wrong.. They are not animals. These are human beings.
Below is a poem I’m sending for your reading as you consider my argument.
——— Patiricia Jabbeh Wesley (Newer poem forthcoming in The Literary Review)
On the side walk, patches of people
In the day, they are like rice grains
along the roadways,
and at night,
they wallpaper lame bodies
in the draft darkness
of the broken city.
Crowds of war returnees,
waiting for nothing,
day after day,
waiting for nothing
after refugee camp,
after their former cities
spewed them out like dirt,
after wandering the globe.
After death’s passing,
they have returned
looking like returnees
from the dead.
The city is hot, burning like steel
The air used to belong to us here
one woman said,
there used to be a road
to take us back home.
Today, the road homeward is now lost
The road to Cape Palmas, filled
with dry bones.
But on the street,
a motorcade is coming.
Someone is living.
Someone is living on these bones.
Do you know any other refugees from other countries, including Europe, who were brought to the United States between 1989 and 2009, given TPS, and afterwards, deported by mass numbers? I don’t know of any.
Liberian Immigrants who were brought into the United States during the 14 year bloody civil war are now threatened with mass deportation back to Liberia. We cannot allow this to happen in our civilized world. Join the efforts to stop this mass deportation of innocent people who have already suffered enough. Call up your law makers, and stop this madness. Liberia is neither ready nor able to survive such a mass arrival of immigrants and refugees. The video below is what these law-abiding people came from. The situation has not changed that much; so, don’t let anyone fool you. This is the time to prevent another tragedy. Do not wait until another tragedy happens. This is your time to make a difference.
Why am I opposing this move? Please allow me to give you my reasons. Please allow those of us who are peace loving, humanitarian minded, thinking, well-meaning human beings to make our case. There is something wrong with a world that allows innocent human beings to suffer such a horrific massacre of hundreds of thousands, the destruction of an entire country, and the mass exodus of about a million to foreign countries and refugee camps over more than a decade before intervening in that war.
There is something wrong when those thousands are given “Temporary Protected Status-(TPS)” instead of a permanent status in the United states when the country they were taken from continues to be in ruins. There is something wrong when those tens of thousands who have made their home in America, who have paid taxes for the past nearly twenty years, who are struggling to bring up American born US children are told that “this is it, pack up and leave everything once more and return to nothing.” There is something inhumane about this, and you and I cannot allow this human tragedy to happen.
This is the Monrovia I saw, where most of the refugees that were repatriated from refugee camps struggle to find a source of living. It is no place to dump more of those who were once displaced and dislocated, and are now settled in the US. Do for Liberians what has been done for other refugees.
You have to be angry about this. You as a good citizen of the great United States, you, the well-meaning, peace-loving human being must pick up the phone and call your State Senator, your state representative, your civil group, and rally with me and with all of the peace loving people to prevent the deportation of law-abiding residents who have already been dealt a heavy blow by the war. There is something inhuman about this threat to deport Liberian immigrants.
I took this photo of Water Side in Monrovia, Liberia while I was visiting my homeland in July of 2009. This is how crowded the city was before the deportation/repatriation of another thousands of Liberians from the Buduburam Refugee Camp near Accra, Ghana. Let no one fool you, the country side has not been made habitable for returning refugee due to the violence. The United Nations is still in charge despite a government recognized by the world body. Deporting more people to that crowded, devastated country could start a new wave of violence.
The Argument For or Against the Deportation:
Let me port forth the arguments on both sides of the issue:
Some people have been complaining on the Internet that allowing Liberian refugees who were given the “TPS” to continue living legally either by a general clemency or by an extension could take away American jobs. Some contend that it would be unfair.
This is my question to you: Who is it unfair to? Who will lose if Liberian refugees who have already been victimized by the ugly civil war and by world neglect of that war are allowed to remain here in the US?
These Liberians are only the unfortunate ones who were forced to leave their country, and were given refuge by the richest country in the world, a country that Liberia as a nation has stood by since its founding in 1847. Who will lose something when whatever jobs some claim Liberians will take are jobs that only the unfortunately uneducated are willing to do in this country?
Liberian immigrants who came out of the villages and from difficult conditions of that country did not have the money to go to college or the means to find out how, and many today serve as nursing aids in America’s nursing homes, giving care to Americans, paying their taxes, bringing up American children.
What does anyone have to lose by keeping these law-abiding people here serving a country that needs service? I believe that anyone claiming this argument is only selfish, and does not know what it means to lose all of your family, your personal property, your homeland, your culture, and all that is worth living for. Liberians have seen enough, and must be given a total clemency to be permanent residents and citizens if they choose in this country. This is time for America and for Barack Obama to give back to a people who have loved America for nearly two centuries.
I took this photo during my research trip to Liberia in July, 2008. I was asked to do a talk for this group of young women at a Life Studies (Home Economics, vocational) school. These girls had nothing much going for them even in this over-crowding condition.
The Argument Against Deportation:
Now, concluding- can I ask when we heard that refugees that were brought into the US from other non-African countries were returned in mass by the US government? Or if I am right, is this a rule that fits African immigrant /refugees only?
Whenever one country gives sanctuary to a people during their time of need, this is a great giving. All of those who were caught up in that bloody civil war, folks like myself are very grateful for that. No one knows better than Liberians what it feels like to lose everything, to lose so many of your loved ones, to lose tens of thousands of your country people, to watch the utter destruction of your homeland, your culture, and to see the craziness of what that ugly war brought upon us.
We know what it means when we have to watch our country people returned forcefully to that memory, to that ugly past, to no jobs or food, some to no family and to ghost towns. If this ever happens, this will be a violation of the rights of these people. This is because when they were brought here and given that TPS, that was all there was, and all that we could get. Refugees are usually desperate people who do not have choices, who take whatever is given them when it is given. But most of these law-abiding people have been here for nearly two decades, making viable contributions to this great land. They cannot be allowed to be forcefully returned without a fight from you, the good American people, the good immigrant residents, the peace-loving people, the Human Rights Activists.
Tell Barack Obama to hear our cry. Tell your state Senator and representatives to hear our cry. Tell your neighbors, your church friends, your community groups to join forces with all of us to prevent the punishment of these already victimized Liberians. Some may say “why didn’t they do something all these years?”
Tell them that refugees who lose everything and must start a new life often do not have the means to fight the laws, pay lawyers, fund the expensive fees needed to fight for citizenship. Those who could, like myself, have done that. Many could only feed their families. Give Liberians a chance to survive this time. Don’t let the sun go down on these innocent people. Do not let the government tear up families this time around. Many Liberians are still torn apart with families all over the world. Don’t let the sun go down without your help. I love you.
This is what we saw in that war.
Here are some Links on the Issue: http://www.africanloft.com/liberians-in-us-face-deportation/