|Ellison Introduces Bill to Protect Residency Status of Liberian Political Refugees in Minnesota|
|March 31, 2011|
Washington, D.C. – Today Representative Keith Ellison introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (H.R. 1293), which would allow Liberian nationals who have resided in the United States legally to apply for permanent residency.
In 1989, a civil war displaced more than half of Liberia’s population, many of whom sought refuge in the United States. The U.S. government has granted these refugees Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since 1991, but in 2006 the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the termination of that designation. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations have granted the Liberian community Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status since that time. More than 30,000 Liberians reside in Minnesota, and an estimated 1,000 currently live under (DED) status.
“Liberian-Americans enrich our communities in Minnesota and we owe it to them to finally resolve their immigration status,” Ellison said.
The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act addresses that issue by allowing Liberians living legally in the United States under DED status to apply for permanent residency. Ellison’s legislation prohibits residency for any Liberian national convicted of an aggravated felony or crimes involving moral turpitude, or any Liberian national involved in the persecution of any person on the basis of race, religion or nationality.
Ellison has worked closely with Liberian community leaders in Minnesota every year since 2007. He supported past efforts by the Bush and Obama Administrations to secure DED status for the thousands of Liberians living legally in the state.
Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and James Langevin (D-RI) are cosponsors. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a companion bill (S. 656) on March 28, 2011.