Liberians Face Looming Deportation Deadline as Episcopal Leaders Join Calls for Leniency
By David Paulsen
[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are voicing support for thousands of Liberians who face a deadline to leave the United States under a Trump administration policy change. Calls for leniency are particularly strong in Minnesota, which is said to have the largest Liberian immigrant population in the country.
The program is known as Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED, which allows certain groups that lack legal residency status to remain in the United States, typically because conditions in their home countries hinder their return. President Donald Trump chose to end that protection for about 4,000 Liberians, effective March 31, 2019, dismissing concerns about the lingering effects of Liberia’s civil war and an Ebola outbreak there.
“Because of the war, Liberia is not ready to take a large number of returnees,” said the Rev. James Wilson, priest in charge at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Wilson and several members of his congregation are from Liberia. They now are U.S. citizens and aren’t affected directly by the looming end to DED protection, but they and others in the Liberian community of Minnesota have stepped up their advocacy for a change in federal policy because of the trauma that deportations could cause other Liberian families.
“It would bring about family separation,” Wilson said, noting that some Liberians have been establishing roots in the United States for decades and now have children who are U.S. citizens. “Who are they going to stay with? Who’s going to look after them? And this is going to create a kind of community problem.”
Liberia is the only country whose nationals are allowed to remain in the United States under Deferred Enforced Departure, which is authorized at the president’s discretion. This protection is similar to the more common Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, which is an immigration status granted by the Department of Homeland Security to certain people already in the United States who are deemed unable to return to one of a designated list of home countries because of armed conflict, environmental disasters or other dangers.
Ten countries currently are on the TPS list, though the Trump administration has tried to eliminate that protection for hundreds of thousands of people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, among others. Those TPS terminations are on hold while they are being contested in federal court.
“The Episcopal Church supports the Dream and Promise Act, which would offer long-term protections and a pathway to citizenship for DED recipients, TPS holders, and Dreamers,” Lacy Broemel, a policy adviser for the church’s Office of Government Relations, said in an email. The church’s Episcopal Public Policy Network issued a policy alert this week asking members to contact lawmakers and voice support for that legislation.
“The decision to terminate DED will have lasting impacts on local communities and families,” Broemel said. “DED recipients who are valued members of local communities should have an opportunity to seek permanent status rather than being forced to return to countries they may have left decades prior.”
The Episcopal Church has historical ties with the Episcopal Church of Liberia, which was a diocese of the U.S.-based church until it became part of the Anglican Province of West Africa in 1980. In 2010, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori traveled to Liberia for a weeklong visit. The Episcopal Church continues to support the Episcopal Church of Liberia financially based on a decades-old covenant between the two churches.
UBE Juneteenth Celebration
June 8, 2019
PARISH NOTES: WEEK OF April 14, 2019
Save The Date – Women’s Retreat
Join us for the St. Augustine's Fall Women's Retreat -- October 19, 2019. A daylong spiritual retreat for all women of the parish. Details to follow. Hosted by ECW. Questions? Call: Sandy De Shields. 510-547-6528 or Susan Ginsky 510-710-8579
All women of the church are invited.
ECW will meet on Sunday, April 4th immediately following service.
St. Augustine’s Free Lending Library
We need donations of books. Any genre. Children, youth, or adult. About half of the initial supply of 50 donated books are now on loan to our church members. Please speak to Phyllis or Susan if you have questions and bring the books to one of us to be stamped before they go on the rack. 📚📚📚
Notes from the Garden by Marilyn Wall
The garden committee is planting flowering plants to brighten up the garden for Easter. If you would like to help contact Marilyn at 651-235-3334
Food Pantry Support Items Of The Week
Columbarium at St Augustine's
Many have expressed the idea that a Columbarium be placed in the Memorial Garden which is to the left side of the church. A Columbarium is a wall which has niches in which the funeral urns of a loved one can be placed. If you would like to be part of the committee to plan this effort, please see Fr. Thornell or call the office and leave your name.
THIS WEEK AT ST. AUGUSTINE’S – APRIL 14, 2019
Hear us, Lord; For your mercy is great.
We thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of this life.
We will exalt you, O God our King; and praise your Name forever and ever.