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Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) Provided to Liberians
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Today, President George W. Bush issued a Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, to defer the enforced departure for 18 months, until March 31, 2009, of any qualified Liberian national (or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia) who is currently present in the United States and who is under a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as of September 30, 2007. The President also directed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take steps to implement continued employment authorization for these individuals during the 18-month DED period. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be issuing a Federal Register notice very soon that will provide details regarding the extension of employment authorization until March 31, 2009 for individuals who are eligible for Liberian DED, including further details regarding Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and information for employers.

What is Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

The authority to allow for deferred enforced departure (DED) of a class of aliens derives from the President’s constitutional powers to conduct foreign relations. It is an authority exercised previously by President George W. Bush and by Presidents William J. Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Although DED is not a specific immigration status, individuals covered by DED are not subject to enforcement actions to remove them from the United States, usually for a specific period of time. TPS for Liberia is scheduled to terminate at 12:01 a.m. on October 1, 2007. (See 71 FR 55000 (Sept. 20, 2006)). TPS was originally granted for Liberia due to armed conflict and widespread civil strife. That conflict ended in 2003, and conditions have improved such that TPS is no longer factually warranted. While acknowledging the progress in Liberia, the President cited political and economic conditions in the country that justify deferring the enforced departure for 18 months of those individuals who have expiring TPS status.

Who is Eligible?

Liberian nationals (or persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia) who are present in the United States under a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as of September 30, 2007, and who have continuously resided in the U.S. since October 1, 2002. Currently, there are approximately 3,500 Liberians in the U.S. under TPS designation.

Who is Not Eligible?

The President’s directive specifically states the following persons are ineligible for Liberian DED coverage:
  • Those ineligible for TPS (includes persons whose TPS status has been withdrawn);

  • Those whose removal is determined to be in the best interest of the U.S.;

  • Those whose presence or activities in the U.S. would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the U.S.;

  • Those who voluntarily returned to Liberia;

  • Those who were deported, excluded or removed prior to the President’s announcement; and

  • Those subject to extradition.
No Application or Registration Necessary

DED is automatic for qualified Liberians and persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia, regardless of age.

Length of Coverage

The President’s Deferred Enforced Departure directive will cover eligible Liberians for 18 months: from Oct. 1, 2007, to March 31, 2009.

Extension of Employment Authorization

For details on the implementation of the automatic extension of employment authorization through March 31, 2009 for individuals who are eligible for DED, the extension of certain TPS-related EADs previously issued to such individuals, and related matters, please refer to the Federal Register notice that USCIS will be publishing in the very near future regarding these subjects. Employers and individuals under DED are also reminded that any legally acceptable document or combination of documents described on the Form I-9, Employment Verification Form, may be presented as evidence of employment authorization and identity.

Other Matters

Liberians (and persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia) who are eligible for DED will not accrue “unlawful presence” for the purposes of adjustment of status or other immigration benefits during the period of time they are covered by DED. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is also issuing guidance to its officers regarding procedures for implementing DED for eligible individuals. If an individual who is eligible for Liberian DED desires to travel abroad and return to the United States during the DED period, he or she must apply for advance parole on Form, I-131 and receive approval of that application before leaving the United States. Granting advance parole is within the discretion of DHS.

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