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President Obama extends Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians…with limitations; By Danielle-Beach Oswald

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Liberia 


Two weeks ago, President Obama extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for certain Liberians who are currently in the United States.  In his decision, President Obama stated that there are "compelling foreign policy reasons" to again extend DED for Liberians.  Nationals of Liberia residing in the United States first qualified for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 1991 because of the armed conflict in Liberia that claimed at least 200,000 lives.  With the emergence of democratic rule in Liberia and rise of President Sirleaf, President Bush ended TPS for Liberians and implemented DED in October of 2007.


President Obama first extended DED until September 30, 2011.  Given the recent extension of DED, 
President Obama's latest measure will continue DED for Liberians for another 18 months beyond September 30, 2011.  He is fully justified in deciding that "compelling foreign policy reasons" mandate the extension of DED as although Liberian President Sirleaf has done a commendable job in transforming Liberia into a post-conflict success story, 10,000 UN troops are still necessary in the country to maintain peace and security.  With an upcoming presidential election, many are fearful of the possibility of renewed violence between Liberian opposition groups. 


However, President Obama's decision to extend DED came with certain restrictions that undermine the humanitarian reasons as to why there is DED and TPS.  Although the President acknowledged that the situation in Liberia remains tense, he limits the extension of DED to several groups including Liberians that may have temporarily returned to Liberia only to later return to the United States.  Additionally, Liberians that did not have active TPS in October of 2007 or those that failed to continue to renew their DED since 2007 are unable to qualify for the DED extension.  These restrictions directly undermine the purpose of DED.  Although both President Obama and President Bush were willing to recognize that DED was necessary for Liberians because of the continued difficulties that the burgeoning democracy of Liberia faces, the on-going bureaucratic procedures that Liberians have faced in order to remain in this country directly undermine why DED was granted for Liberians in the first place.  President Obama may acknowledge that there are compelling humanitarian grounds that call for the re-institution of DED, but those that don't comply with often times difficult to understand government regulations are forced to face the "compelling foreign policy reasons" in Liberia that DED is specifically supposed to avoid. 


 

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