WASHINGTON, D.C. [1/21/20]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—who has been working to extend humanitarian protections for Liberians (known as DED) for years—released the following statement after President Joe Biden reinstated DED protections through executive action.
“I’ve been working to extend these humanitarian protections because Liberians are our neighbors, our families, and our friends. Many Liberian Minnesotans and Liberian Americans have been living legally in our nation for more than two decades. Minnesota has the largest Liberian community in the nation, many of whom left their war-torn nation as refugees and now are important members of their Minnesota communities,” said Sen. Smith. “They deserve the opportunity to become citizens—this is their home. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for taking this important step on day one.
In addition to reinstating DED, President Biden has directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to review Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) application procedures to improve the process. Sen. Smith discussed this with President Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, during a virtual meeting today.
These actions provide stability and reassurance of continued protection for many Liberian Minnesotans as they begin their path to citizenship through LRIF. You can access more information about the executive actions here.
In the spring of 2019, Sen. Smith successfully called on President Trump to prevent the expiration of DED status for another year. Sen. Smith joined Rep. Dean Phillips both in Brooklyn Park, Minn. and in Washington to join with advocates and members of the Liberian community, and penned an op-ed highlighting the need to extend DED. In December of 2019, Sen. Smith included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which extended protections for recipients of DED and provided them with a pathway to citizenship. And at the end of 2020, Sen. Smith included extending Liberian humanitarian protections in the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief and government funding agreement: