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Press conference covers upcoming crisis with deportation of Liberians
By Patti Cullen, CAE | March 15, 2019 | All members
Congressman Dean Phillips from the third Congressional district and Senator Tina Smith held a press conference in Brooklyn Park on Sunday March 10 to address the upcoming deportation of Liberians. Special thank you to Nicole Mattson, Vice Chair of the Care Providers of Minnesota Workforce Council, and Executive Director at Good Samaritan Society–Specialty Care Center for representing us at this event. Care Providers of Minnesota has reported on the Deferred Enforce Departure (DED) program impacting several thousand Liberians living in Minnesota in past newsletters; and has forwarded a detailed issue paper and request for action to the Minnesota Congressional delegation.
Attending the press conference were most media stations and a DED holder who shared a very powerful story as one of several thousand Liberians who have long lived in Minnesota but could face deportation within weeks—the deadline is March 31, 2019. A special residency status for native Liberians living in the United States is set to expire on that date, unless President Trump extends it.
Senator Smith and Representative Phillips are pursuing bipartisan legislative solutions. Last week, they joined more than 50 other members of Congress in writing Trump to urge him to extend the temporary (DED) legal status for Liberians who came to the U.S. as refugees and are not yet citizens.
Minnesota is home to one of the largest Liberian populations in the country with an estimated 30,000 people. When Liberians first fled to this country, they got “Temporary Protected Status,” or TPS. That program, and the Deferred Enforced Departure initiative, are a humanitarian effort meant to help people whose home countries have been struck by war or natural disaster.
Presenters at the press conference including Nicolle with Senator Smith and Congressman Phillips
Liberians who could be deported fill a lot of local jobs, especially in the healthcare sector. According to Nicole Mattson, Liberians in Minnesota are “doing critical work and would be hard to replace in a tight labor market.” If people are deported, "we are going to say goodbye to a pool of talent that is highly skilled. They're educated. They've been here. They've been committed to our organizations," Mattson said. "At my particular facility, 60 percent of our employees are immigrants, and over half of those are Liberians. Very simply, we could not do the work, we could not care for people, we could not care for seniors without them."
Phillips noted that the DED program has continued under Democratic and Republican presidents. And this isn't the first time the program has faced possible expiration. But Phillips said he hopes that another extension is followed by legislation that establishes a pathway to citizenship for people who, he said, have been living in legal limbo far too long.
Patti Cullen, CAE | President/CEO | email@example.com | 952-851-2487