Brief Defends Deferred Enforced Departure for Families
Carson City, NV (STL.News) – Friday, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 15 states in filing an amicus brief in support of legal action to halt the Trump Administration’s termination of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for thousands of Liberians who have been living, working and raising their families in the U.S. for decades.
In the brief, the attorneys general argue to preserve DED, an immigration program authorized by the president to protect foreign nationals whose countries have experienced armed conflict, civil unrest, natural disasters or public health crises. The states believe that the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate DED will inflict widespread harm on Liberian families and their communities.
“Liberians are working, contributing members of our states, and have become part of the fabric of our communities,” said AG Ford. “The Deferred Enforced Departure program must be preserved to make sure those who sought safety and shelter in our country are protected. The Trump Administration’s callous disregard for Liberians has no place in Nevada, or any other state, and I’m proud to make my voice heard.”
Since the 1980s, Liberia has experienced a series of internal armed conflicts and the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history, killing and displacing thousands. Liberian nationals were first granted DED in 1999. As DED-holders, Liberians are not subject to immigration detention and removal, and can legally reside and work in the U.S. Many have lived in the U.S. for decades, building families, participating in the workforce and contributing to their communities. The states contend that the Trump Administration’s attempt to abruptly terminate DED for these long-term residents of the U.S. would force them to return to dangerous conditions in Liberia.
Terminating DED for Liberians would also put at risk the welfare of thousands of children born to Liberian parents but raised in this country. The brief explains that these children, who are U.S. citizens, are already suffering in fear of their parents’ removal from the country as a result of the president’s decision to end DED protections. Studies show that fears about family members’ deportations can cause children to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, and impair their socioemotional and cognitive development. Forced separation from a parent is a traumatic event that could result in these children losing not only a loving family and safe home, but also their economic stability and wellbeing.
The states also argue that Liberians make valuable contributions to the economy. A large population of Liberians work in the health care and social assistance industries, filling a growing need for workers in these fields. These workers support state economies, and their removal would inflict widespread harm on the communities in which they live and work.
Nevada is joined by the following states and territory in the filing of this brief: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.