Addressing leaders of Liberian communities from Rhode Island and across the country, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) said it is time for the United States to provide stability by allowing permanent resident status for law-abiding Liberians who have become part of the fabric of our communities after fleeing their country's civil unrest decades ago. Many Liberians remain in the country under a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) Presidential Directive, which is their only temporary protection from deportation and does not permit them to become lawful permanent residents. The directive, which was set to expire on March 31, 2013, was given an 18-month extension today by President Obama.
"Traveling through Rhode Island, I have heard many Liberians' personal stories of tragedy and courage," said Langevin. "When Liberia experienced civil unrest in the late 1980's and the early 1990's, thousands of people fled to the United States in search of a safe haven from political persecution -- the same journey that has drawn millions of people to American shores. The protection from deportation they received has allowed them to become valued members of our communities."
"Yet every year since 1991, families have waited to see if the Attorney General would renew protections for them and permit them to stay in the nation that they have come to know and love. We can and will work together to make sure that the United States maintains its principles of religious and political tolerance and ensure that they will have a permanent home in America."
The Congressman, who spoke at a Liberian DED Immigration Conference on Capitol Hill attended by the RI DED Immigration Task Force, recognized the leadership of Senator Jack Reed, who has spearheaded legislation that Langevin supports in the House to remove this barrier. Under its provisions, Liberian immigrants who would otherwise be ineligible could apply to remain in the United States permanently.