President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., today directed his Administration to reinstate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians living in the United States.
Today's order was one of six migration-related first-day actions taken by the new president. This particular one is embodied in a Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security. It must be implemented by an order published in the Federal Register, a step that is expected to be completed next week.
The Deferred Enforced Departure program covers around 4,000 Liberians who have lived in the U.S. for many years and for whom returning would be unsafe due to conditions in their country. President Trump declined to renew Liberian DED.
The Memorandum notes that "President Obama, in successive memoranda, extended that grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to March 31, 2018. President Trump then determined that conditions in Liberia did not warrant a further extension of DED, but that the foreign policy interests of the United States warranted affording an orderly transition period for Liberian DED beneficiaries. President Trump later extended that DED transition period through March 30, 2020."
The Memorandum continues, pointing out that "In December 2019, the Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Public Law 116–92) (NDAA), which included, as section 7611, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) provision. The LRIF provision, with limited exceptions, makes Liberians who have been continuously present in the United States since November 20, 2014, as well as their spouses and children, eligible for adjustment of status to that of United States lawful permanent resident (LPR). The NDAA gave eligible Liberian nationals until December 20, 2020, to apply for this adjustment of status."
Continuing, the Memorandum explains that "After the enactment of the LRIF provision, President Trump further extended the DED transition period through January 10, 2021, to ensure that DED beneficiaries would continue to be eligible for employment authorization during the LRIF application period."
The Memorandum asserts that "The LRIF application process was hampered by a slow launch, cumbersome procedures, and delays in adjudication. Recognizing these difficulties, the Congress enacted a 1-year extension to the application period in section 901 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law 116–260). That legislation, however, did not provide for continued employment authorization past January 10, 2021, the expiration of the most recent DED transition period."
The Memorandum contends that "There are compelling foreign policy reasons to reinstate DED for an additional period for those Liberians presently residing in the United States who were under a grant of DED as of January 10, 2021. Providing work authorization to these Liberians, for whom we have long authorized TPS or DED in the United States, while they initiate and complete the LRIF status-adjustment process, honors the historic close relationship between the United States and Liberia and is in the foreign policy interests of the United States. I urge all Liberian DED beneficiaries to apply promptly for adjustment of status, and I direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to review the LRIF application procedures administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure that they facilitate ease of application and timely adjudication."