Our thanks goes out to so many out there who called the White House, wrote e-mails, signed our facebook, and made calls, joining in the efforts to prevent the forced repatriation of legal immigrants to Liberia. Our appreciation goes to US Senators Erik Paulsen, Jack Reed, The Advocates for Human Rights in Minnesota, many in the Liberian community, ordinary people, and all those who fought to help prevent the forceful repatriation of these already victimized Liberian immigrants. The fight is not over however. The immigrants have been given an extension of their DED as they seek opportunities for a more permanent status. President Barack Obama has been kind to allow this extension, but all of us must work with our families, friends, the communities to help change this sort of temporary status.
Liberian immigrants who were admitted into the United State during the 14 year civil war have been given an extension for another year as they work on obtaining a permanent status.
The matter of legally admitted immigrant deportation to their once devastated homeland is a touchy sort of subject for immigration opponents because many feel that everyone should live in their own country no matter what. But that is a very strange logic considering that there is no place on earth that is occupied by only those who own the country. The Liberian situation is not in any way related to the Immigration Debate. It is a unique one that the new President, Barack Obama will have to settle while he can. Year after year, US President since the 1990s have extended the temporary stay of these immigrants, but someone not understanding the situation might want to ask, then why have they not obtained a more permanent status yet?
When immigrants are given a temporary status because of war in their country, and that war lasts fourteen years, that status is no longer a temporary one. Besides, many do not know that each of the temporary residents are not folks that have the ability to wake up one day and decide to change their status. They must have an employer who can file for them, a sibling or parent who can file for them, or they must marry an American citizen who can file for them. Many of the thousands that would have been deported do not and did not have that luxury. Many of us who had the education to obtain that opportunity have already done so.
Even if most could, there are others in the thousands who have no education, who have no knowledge of the system that the war forced them into, and are therefore not even aware of how to go about obtaining a new status. And yet there are others who have sought a way out by hiring lawyers who have deceived them. The situation our people find themselves in has been so complicated, many of us have friends and relatives who are simply up against the wall. Hopefully, these different issues will be examined case by case, and will be resolved more permanently in this one year.
Thanks to all:
On a more personal note, I would like to thank all of my good friends on facebook who joined with me in my small effort with the thousands of supporters and peace-loving people who fought for Liberians to be given this extension. I would like to thank my friends who joined in the calling campaign, the e-mailing of their own law makers. I would like to thank the good people at the Advocates for Human Rights, many who are dear friends of all of us Liberians. I would like to especially thank the Black Caucus that stood by Liebrians in their fight to not be deported like animals. This was not a political effort; it was a humane effort by Liberians, Americans, and even folks from across the world. I have a friend who lives in Germany, my scholar friend, Tobe, who joined in the effort with her own letter writing after she received my e-mail. I would like to thank my e-mail list that tolerated my desperate e-mails, and did not only tolerate my e-mails, but wrote back with promises to call and write. I know they all did write. May you all be blessed.
When I received the e-mail confirmation from The Advocates for Human Rights that the DED for Liberian immigrants had been extended, I called my friend, Doris Parker, and together we were overjoyed. It was a tearful moment to be reminded this year again that the war to save Liberians is never over.
This is not the end however. Liberian immigrants living in the US must buckle their belts and fight to upgrade their status or we will be talking about deportation next year again. Whatever I can do to assist, please call upon me, and I will. Two years ago, I served as an expert witness and support as a team of young lawyers in Philadelphia helped to save a young Liberian woman from deportation. She had been allowed into the country as a young adolescent, lost her parents to the war, and been forced to marry an older man when she escaped to come to this country. I could not see her deported, and was it a joy when through my and the efforts of the team of lawyers, she was given a new chance to live permanently in the US, and away from a place where she could have been killed like her parents and siblings had she been deported. Let us fight for human beings.
Some may look at our efforts to prevent the deportation of innocent, legal residents back to their original homeland as a way of bringing bad publicity to that country. That this media attention just makes Liberia look bad. I do not agree. Liberia has been looking bad for nearly twenty years, and things have not changed that much. I believe that the deportation of unwilling immigrants in mass numbers will make Liberia really look bad. It is a good thing therefore to give everyone the chance to live in a country that they love so much, a country that gave them sanctuary when they needed a home, and a country where their young children are growing up happily. God bless America.
It is a good thing. I love you.