Tonight, the president will sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020, which includes a provision to extend permanent residency status for eligible Liberians. The provision, long championed by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), provides a lifeline to an estimated 4,000 Liberians whose protections under Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) are set to expire on March 30, 2020—as well as other long-residing Liberians and their families. The new law provides a permanent solution and a pathway to citizenship for Liberians who have lived in the United States since November 20, 2014, when the Obama administration designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country. The time frame of the law covers individuals and families from both the TPS and DED programs.
As Sen. Reed highlighted in a press statement on Tuesday, “Liberians who’ve legally lived here for years, paid taxes, and made so many positive contributions to their various communities … deserve the opportunity to get on a path to becoming full citizens.” This provision of the NDAA is an example of how Congress can pass laws that recognize and reflect the realities of American communities and that embody an immigration system that is fair, humane, and workable.