August 16, 2011 STATEMENT — LIRS Applauds Extension of Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians

Press Contact: Fabio Lomelino, Assistant Director for Media Relations

BALTIMORE, August 16, 2011—Today President Obama signed a memo to extend for 18 months Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to an estimated 2,500 Liberian migrants who have been legally residing in the United States for over 20 years. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the announcement and urges further action to provide these Liberians with permanency in the United States.

In 1989, thousands of Liberians fled the ongoing civil war and some of them arrived to the United States in search of protection. Since 1991, the U.S. government has provided temporary legal status to these Liberians who have been unable to return due to unstable conditions. Today’s announcement extends DED, a temporary immigration protection that allows qualified Liberians to continue living and working in the country, through May 30, 2013.

Over the past two decades, many of these Liberian migrants have started families, purchased homes and started their own businesses. If the Administration had not acted before October 1, 2011, they would have been forced to return to Liberia. “America is home to many Liberians who fled the civil war,” said Checago Bright, a former refugee from Liberia. “I am pleased that the Administration has responded to the calls from the Liberian community to extend DED and to protect Liberian families who were at risk of being separated.”

“It is in everyone’s best interest to provide a solution for these Liberian migrants,” LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke remarked. “They are contributing members of their communities and offer valuable remittances to help support Liberia’s recovery. We must continue to welcome Liberians who now call the United States home.”

Earlier this year, Senator Reed (D-RI) and Representative Ellison (D-MN-5) introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2011 (S. 656 / H.R. 1293), legislation that would provide Liberian migrants with a pathway to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. Mr. Bright added, “While today’s DED announcement is an important short-term solution, more work is needed to ensure that these Liberians finally obtain permanency in the United States.”

LIRS welcomes refugees and migrants on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.

If you have any questions about this statement, please feel free to contact Eric B. Sigmon, Director for Advocacy at (202) 626-7943 or via email at

To read the Liberian DED memo from President Obama, click here.

To read Senator Reed’s press release about the DED announcement, click here.

To read the LIRS statement in support of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2011, click here.