March 18, 2009
In collaboration with the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont (LOP), world renown poet, writer, play-write and Wake Forest University professor emerita of American Studies, Dr. Maya Angelou, pleads on behalf of Liberians facing eminent mass deportation from the United States after March 31, 2009. Her emotionally charged pleads can be seen in this special video which she recorded to be used effectively by creating an awareness of Liberians impacted by the status of their TPS. She expresses her heartfelt hurts and disappointments about the emerging plights of those thousands of Liberians to be affected in disbelief. Rather then sitting on the sideline, she decided to help prevent their mass deportation by adding her voice to others, including those of prominent U.S. statesmen and women who always cared and have been advocating tirelessly on behalf of Liberians since the beginning of their TPS in 1991. Among such distinguished people are: Senators Jack Reid, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Babara Mikulski, Mary Landrieu, Amy Klobuchar, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Others include Representatives Patrick Kennedy, Donald Payne and our own NC Representative Larry W. Womble, to name just a few.
Thousands of Liberians living in NC and all over the U.S. face mass deportation when a federal immigration status created for humanitarian purposes expires on March 31, 2009. You will recall in the late 1980s, a bloody civil war raged through our West African homeland, Liberia (a country founded by the United States), killing 250,000 people and displacing more than a million, according to a U.N. report. The United States extended “TPS” to all Liberians who could get to America, and about 14,000 of them took advantage of that humanitarian offer.
Temporary protective status (TPS) is extended to nationals of countries facing civil unrest or natural disaster. For years, the TPS for Liberians was extended as the situation there worsened under dictator Charles Taylor. By His grace, at the intervention of the U.S., Taylor was ousted in 2003 and Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected Liberia’s first female president in 2005.
In 2007, citing the progress in Liberia, President George W. Bush signed an order of “deferred enforced departure” for Liberians who had been under TPS, giving them 18 months to return to Liberia.
While Liberia has made many positive strides in recent years on President Sirleaf’s watch, the country is in no condition to absorb the influx of thousands of returning citizens. These citizens would be forced to look for jobs in an economy with an unemployment rate of nearly 80%. Liberia is an emerging democracy, but it is a country that faces a period of critical rebuilding after 14 years of brutal civil war. Many Liberians have inter-married, have children and become important parts of the communities where they live in the United States. There is a large Liberian community in NC with children who are citizens of the U.S. They are hard working people who stride to play by the rules and pay their taxes. Above all, they came here legally!
On behalf of LOP, a chapter member of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) and Liberians every where, we are appealing to you, our American families, friends and neighbors to join Dr. Maya Angelou and all our immigration advocates by calling your respective Congressmen and the White House Comments Line: (202) 456-1111 and strongly urge President Barack Obama to grant Liberians reprieve from imminent deportation and that the class granted DED cover all Liberians, including those who arrived after 2002
The LOP, is a 501 © (3) and public charity. For more information, visit our website: www.lopnc.org
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James Y. Hunder, Sr.