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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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August 5, 2019


Brief Filed by Raoul and 14 AGs Defends Deferred Enforced Departure for Families

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 15 attorneys general, today filed an amicus brief in support of legal action to halt the federal government’s termination of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for thousands of Liberians who have been living, working, and raising their families in the United States for decades.

In the brief, filed in African Communities Together v. Trump in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the states oppose the defendants’ motion to dismiss and argue to preserve DED – an immigration program authorized by the president to protect foreign nationals whose countries have experienced armed conflict, civil unrest, natural disasters, or public health crises – for Liberians. The states contend the attempt to terminate DED will inflict widespread harm on Liberian families and their communities.

“Liberian nationals in the United States fled disease and violence in their home country, and for 20 years, Deferred Enforced Departure has allowed them to safely raise their families and support communities throughout the country,” Raoul said. “To withdraw those protections now will destroy families and lives, and it is not who we are as a nation. I will continue to stand against the administration’s discriminatory policies.”

Since the 1980s, Liberia has experienced a series of internal armed conflicts and the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history, killing and displacing thousands. Liberian nationals were first granted DED in 1999. As DED-holders, Liberians are not subject to immigration detention and removal and can legally reside and work in the United States. Many have lived in the United States for decades, building families, participating in the workforce, and contributing to their communities. The states argue that the attempt to abruptly terminate DED for these long-term residents of the United States would force them to return to dangerous conditions in Liberia.

Terminating DED for Liberians would also put at risk the welfare of thousands of children born to Liberian parents but raised in the United States. The brief argues that these children, who are U.S. citizens, are already suffering in fear of their parents’ removal from the country as a result of the decision to end DED protections. Studies show that fears about family members’ deportations can cause children to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, and impair their socioemotional and cognitive development. Forced separation from a parent is a traumatic event that could result in these children losing not only a loving family and safe home, but also their economic stability and wellbeing.

The states also argue that Liberians make valuable contributions to the economy. A large number of Liberians work in the health care and social assistance industries, filling a growing need for workers in these fields. These workers support state economies, and their removal would inflict widespread harm on the communities in which they live and work.

In March, Raoul joined a multi-state group in filing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin federal official from taking action on the president’s directive to end DED for Liberians on March 31. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for the next day, but on the day of the hearing, the president issued a new directive to extend DED protections through March 31, 2020. Among other points, today’s brief argues that the president’s power to extend the DED deadline does not eliminate the plaintiffs’ harm or make the suit moot.

Attorney General Raoul was joined in filing today’s brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


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