FLORIDA – Liberians in the United States have lost the battle against President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate their Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status by March 2020 at the District Court of Massachusetts.
The District Court Judge, Timothy S. Hillman, opined that the extension of the program is the prerogative of the President and not the Court, thereby dismissing the case.
“While the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have suffered an injury in fact, the Court unfortunately sees no way to redress that injury. In order to renew DED, the President must take affirmative action, and this Court cannot compel the President to take that action under the circumstances of this case. Thus, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss,” the Judge ruled.
The case was jointly filed by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Lawyers for Civil Rights. The lawsuit, the first of its kind in the country, was filed on behalf of African Communities Together (ACT), the UndocuBlack Network, and fifteen affected individuals, including Liberians raising U.S. citizen children.
Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is a humanitarian program that protects approximately 4,000 Liberian immigrants in the United States. Over the past two decades, DED was renewed under both Republican and Democrat administrations because of environmental disasters and armed conflict in Liberia.
“While the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have suffered an injury in fact, the Court unfortunately sees no way to redress that injury. In order to renew DED, the President must take affirmative action, and this Court cannot compel the President to take that action under the circumstances of this case. Thus, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss,” the Judge ruled.”
– District Court Of Massachusetts
Under DED, Liberians have been able to live, work, and raise U.S. citizen children.
On March 27, 2018, President Trump announced plans to terminate DED for Liberians effective March 31, 2019. In his memorandum, President Trump noted: “Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance. Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals. The 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease caused a tragic loss of life and economic damage to the country, but Liberia has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks of the disease.”
The civil rights groups believe President Trump’s decision to terminate the program and have Liberians on the status repatriated is discriminatory based on race, ethnicity, and/or national origin in violation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
However, the District Court said while it believes that “Plaintiffs have suffered an injury in fact, the Court unfortunately sees no way to redress that injury.”
The Court: “Even assuming the Court could declare the termination decision void as the product of an unlawful process and/or enjoin enforcement of it, DED only continues if the President renews it. DED, in other words, will still expire on March 31, 2020, absent any affirmative action by President Trump. And this Court lacks the authority to compel the President to take that action. The authority for the DED program comes from the executive branch’s constitutional power to conduct foreign affairs, 3 and “the conduct of foreign affairs” is a realm entrusted to the President.”
It is likely that the team of lawyers would file an appeal with the Supreme Court which would be the last straw for the over 4,000 Liberians who risk deportation eight months from now if President Trump does not sign an extension.