|Press Release: Ellison Commends Liberian Decision; Will Work for Permanent Residency|
|September 12, 2007|
Washington, D.C. -- “I am grateful the President signed an executive order to stop the deportation of Liberians here under Temporary Protective Status,” Congressman Keith Ellison said. President Bush signed an eighteen month extension on Wednesday of this week for those Liberians who have been here under temporary status. “It was the right thing to do to keep these families together; it strengthens our communities, and embraces the fundamental foundation of an immigrant nation,” Ellison stated.
"This is good news for the Liberian families in Minnesota. It will allow us to avoid what surely would have been a crisis for our community,” Ellison added. Approximately 4,000 Liberians nationwide would have been ordered by the Department of Homeland Security to leave the country by October 1st. Minnesota is home to one of the largest Liberian communities. According to a recent report by Minnesota Public Radio, an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 Liberians live in Minnesota. Other press reports indicated as many as 1,000 of those Liberian Minnesotans would have been affected by the deportation order. Most of the Liberian communities are located in Brooklyn Park, Robbinsdale and Plymouth.
Liberians have lived and worked in Minnesota since 1991 when their country was wracked by civil war which first made them eligible for temporary protected status. Many have become integral parts of their communities filling key jobs in the health care industry. Their employers joined them in their effort to stay fearing a serious shortage of hospital and nursing home workers in their businesses. Similarly, communities were concerned about the impact on real estate if a number of homes and apartments currently occupied by Liberians would open up if families were forced to vacate them and return to Liberia. Deportation also threatened to separate families. Children born in this country are American citizens and would be able to stay, while their parents faced the deportation order.
Minnesota’s entire Congressional delegation supported the Liberians bid to stay. A bill granting them one more year passed the House in July, but was held up in the Senate. Congressman Ellison also sponsored legislation earlier this year, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Protection Act of 2007, which would have prevented deportation and afforded Liberians the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.
"We’ve been given a bit of a reprieve. I will use this 18 month extension to continue my advocacy in Congress to allow these same families to apply for permanent residency and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship," Ellison concluded.