January 21, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden signed and sent a memorandum to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security on Wednesday to reinstate and extend the Deferred Enforced Departure program through the end of June 2022 for Liberians refugees currently residing in the United States.

The DED extension will allow Liberian nationals, who have lived in the U.S. longterm since November 2014 and were granted eligibility to modify their immigration status to legal U.S. permanent resident under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness plan, to initiate and complete the LRIF application process.

The latest DED extension for Liberians only applies to those people who became eligible for DED this month on Jan. 10., the statement stated. The extension also guarantees that applicants’ work permits will remain active during the LRIF application process period.

The DED is a temporary immigration benefit that is offered to specific people from designated countries and region experiencing political or civic conflicts or natural disaster to stay in the U.S.

During Liberia’s 12 year-long civil war and political conflict unrest that began in 1991, the U.S. government began offering Temporary Protected Status program to Liberians who already reside in America. The program ended in October 2007.

As part of the U.S. efforts to deepen and strengthen U.S-Africa relations, President George W. Bush in his second term signed the first DED to postpone deportations of Liberian nationals that were granted TPS benefit. President Barack H. Obama further extended the DED to March 2018.

However, his successor, President Donald J. Trump, decided that the situations in Liberia has improved and do not justify providing another extension for the program. Instead, he authorized a one year transition period, which was later extended to March 2020, for Liberian DED beneficiaries who have continuously live in the U.S. for more than a decade to apply to become legal U.S. permanent resident.

In addition, the U.S. Congress in December 2019 approved the National Defense Authorization Act, which included the LRIF. The law offered eligible Liberians the opportunity to apply for legal permanent resident status until the end of last year.

However, due to bureaucratic delays and inefficacies in processing the applications, Congress decided to provide a one year extension through the end of last year for LRIF applicants to complete the process but neglected to extend their work permits. President Trump then extended the DED transition period through this year’s Jan 10.

The latest DED approved by President Biden provides 17 months extension and includes employment authorization for DED recipients.