Brooklyn Park's Liberian community seeks solutions to avoid deportation

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As the deadline to leave the United States nears at the end of the month, an emergency press conference was held in Brooklyn Park Sunday for the largest community of Liberians outside of Africa.

Six members of Congress from Minnesota have declared their support for an extension of the deportation order.

On March 31, the Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED program, which provides thousands of Liberians authorization to work and live in this country, is set to expire.

Sunday, several Minnesota lawmakers and Liberian community leaders in Brooklyn Park called on President Trump to reverse his decision.

“As far as I know, Minnesota is my home, America is my home,” said Louise Stevens, a Brooklyn Park resident and Liberian immigrant.

Through tears, Stevens explained how she has made a life in Brooklyn Park for the last 18 years after fleeing war-torn Liberia.

She works, provides for her family and is now facing possible deportation in a few weeks.

“Senator Klobuchar and I and Congressman Phillips have reached out continuously to the White House to raise this issue and I know that they are well aware of it,” said Sen. Tina Smith.

Smith was joined along with Rep. Dean Phillips Sunday inside Brooklyn Park City Hall to address their efforts in pushing the Trump Administration to reverse an order to end DED for Liberians living here in America.

“This was a program established by President Clinton, extended by President Bush, Obama and extended for yet another year by President Trump, so there is precedence for this,” Phillips said.

Temporary protected status was granted to Liberians already living in the U.S. years ago after two civil wars in that country. Then, the DED program was created and extended until now.

Only the Trump administration has the power to extend DED.

Brooklyn Park is home to the largest community of Liberians outside of Liberia. Marie Zar has lived there for 19 years, providing for her family still living in Liberia.

She hasn’t seen her son Mack since he was 14 because she’s unable to travel back there.

“It’s so emotional to me, that’s why I was crying,” Zar said. “We can’t go back to our country we don’t have room there’s nothing there to go to.”

Both Smith and Phillips have introduced bills to provide legal status and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Liberians.

In the meantime, a lawsuit was filed Friday to try and extend the deportation deadline.