Fifteen U.S. Senators, including Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to extend for two years Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians residing legally in the United States. The current eighteen-month DED extension is set to expire on September 30, 2014.
In Liberia, a brutal civil war killed thousands and forced millions to flee. More than a million Liberians – about a third of the population – were forced from their homes by the 14-year war. Today, Liberians continue to face challenges as the country works toward rebuilding and recovering after the war. Most recently, Liberia is among three West African countries facing an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease.
CVT has long been involved in the plight of Liberians and commends the Senators for raising this important issue. More than 30,000 Liberians live in Minnesota and an estimated 1,000 live under DED status. Two suburban Minnesota communities – Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center – are home to many Liberian families who would be severely impacted by mass deportations if the extension is not granted by September 30. Liberians living in Minnesota and other states have raised families in the United States and have become an integral part of the fabric of the communities in which they live.
CVT currently extends rehabilitative care to Liberian torture survivors at our St. Paul Healing Center and knows that the specter of deportation can make any survivor anxious about their futures. This uncertainty is a serious impediment to their recovery.
CVT also worked in Liberia from 2005 until 2008 providing community-based mental health services for survivors of torture and war trauma. Additionally, the Liberian Association for Psychosocial Services (LAPS), a community mental health program to offer psychosocial support to torture survivors in Liberia, is one of CVT’s Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) partner torture rehabilitation centers.
CVT remains deeply concerned about the well-being of thousands of Liberians nationwide who are at risk of being deported and hopes President Obama will extend the Deferred Enforced Departure date as soon as possible.