White House extends Deferred Enforced Departure status for Liberians

The Trump administration has ordered a one-year extension for Deferred Enforced Departure, also known as DED, a temporary program giving Liberians the right to live and work in the United States.

That's welcome news for Minnesota's Liberian community, one of the largest in the country.

The residency program began in the 90s, offering refuge for Liberians fleeing civil war and chaos in their homeland. The program had been renewed several times by presidents of both parties. Trump had intended to end it. But in a statement from the White House, he said Thursday that more time is needed to wind down the program.

"The reintegration of [Deferred Enforced Departure] beneficiaries into Liberian civil and political life will be a complex task, and an unsuccessful transition could strain United States-Liberian relations and undermine Liberia's post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability," Trump said in the statement.

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Estimates of Minnesota's Liberian population vary. The state demographer says there are about 16,000. Community leaders contend it's more like 40,000. Many are U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization.

It's not clear how many Minnesota residents are protected from deportation by Deferred Enforced Departure.

The Organization for Liberians in Minnesota estimates that about 4,000 people would be at risk of deportation without the Deferred Enforced Departure extension.

The federal department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would not provide an estimate. The department deferred to the White House, which did not respond to a request for that information.