African communities vow to appeal dismissal of Liberian DED lawsuit against Trump

Dennis Kabatto: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 November 2019:

African Communities Together (ACT) and its attorneys, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have vehemently vowed to appeal a Boston federal district court dismissal of their Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) lawsuit against President Trump, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Kevin McAleenan, acting Secretary of Homeland Security.

At issue in the case filed by ACT, community organizations and 15 Liberian DED holders is whether President Trump’s decision to terminate the DED program is unlawful?

The plaintiffs believe the president’s decision to end the program is entrenched in racism and racial hostility, rather than current and existing conditions in Liberia therefore, it is unconstitutional violating the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

Lawyers for the defendants argued that the DED program exists under the president’s discretion.

Therefore the court lacks jurisdiction and cannot compel the president to extend DED for Liberians.

They also contend that Organizational Plaintiffs including Act, UndocuBlack Network, Lawyers for Civil Rights and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law lack Article 111 standing to challenge President Trump’s termination of the program. “Article III of the Constitution limits federal courts’ jurisdiction to certain ‘Cases’ and ‘Controversies.’”

On October 25, Judge Timothy S. Hillman of the US District Court of Massachusetts agreed with the defendants subsequently granting motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim.

“While the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have suffered an injury in fact, the Court unfortunately sees no way to redress that injury,” Judge Hillman wrote in his ruling siding with the defendants. “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 noted.

But plaintiffs’ attorneys believe Judge Hillman’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit is flawed.

“We disagree with the court’s ruling which is why we are filing an appeal,” Maryum Jordan – Counsel, Special Litigation and Advocacy Project, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Photo), said in her response to an inquiry seeking comment for this story

“The Court found that both the individual and organizational plaintiffs do not have Article III standing because the Court has no power to provide them relief related to the termination of DED. This conclusion is the basis of our appeal,” Ms Jordan concluded.

Amaha Kassa, executive director of ACT said though they were disappointed by the judges’ ruling, they are glad to see the judge found that clearly Liberians are harmed by terminating the DED. Mr. Kassa is encouraged the judge also found that individual plaintiffs and the organizations that sued on their behalf are able to sue.

“What we believe is that the ruling was a mistake. We believe that particularly in a case where a decision to terminate DED was based on illegitimate, illegal and discriminatory reasons, that a judge can order that that termination decision be reversed,” Mr. Kassa (Photo – below), insisted in his reaction to Judge Hillman’s ruling.

“So that’s what we are asking for, that’s what we’ve been asking for since the beginning. We believe the court has the power to grant that and our plan is to appeal. We are preparing an appeal to take up that issue and we are committed to continuing to fight for the protection of Liberian DED holders,”

As the deadline to end DED for Liberians slowly approaches, anxiety and uncertainty looms in Staten Island, New York home to thousands of Liberians, said Jennifer Gray-Brumskine a Liberian immigrant (now a US citizen) and chair of the board of directors for the Staten Island Liberian Community Association.

“These people have never been more nervous in their lives, everyone is so scared,” Gray-Brumskine said in an interview.” Adding, ‘Instead of showing sensitivity to the needs of my community and an appreciation for the contributions we have made to this country, President Trump has chosen to attack us.’

If the termination is enforced in March next year it will cause irreparable harm, separating families.  Children born in America by Liberians will lose their parents if deported; people will lose their homes that they have worked hard to pay for all these years in America. And of course, the Liberian economy cannot support these people if they are sent back home, Gray-Brumskine said.

Currently, Liberia is the only country entitled for DED benefits, according to immigrationforum.org It was former President George W. Bush who granted DED to approximately 10, 000 Liberians in the United States after their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) expired in 2007.

Former President Obama extended the program in September, 2016 after determining that ‘there are compelling foreign policy reasons’ for an extension.

Though the actual number of Liberian DED holders is unclear, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services says there are an estimated 3,600 Liberian DED holders and about 840 with work permit or approved employment authorization in the U.S.

2 Comments

  1. Edwin – I totally agree with some of what you have said – that the DED program was not a guaranteed right but a temporary privilege,and that all those years,that kept on rolling by since 2007,should have been more than enough time for them to legitimize,and upgrade their resident status.Fair enough.

    But still,you must tread softly,because not everyone caught in this massive net cast so wide,far,and callously by Trump is a trouble maker,criminal,or an instigator of violence,and lawlessness at home,in Liberia.You will agree with me,that there are so many thousands, of hardworking,decent people,who now find themselves caught in this perplexing, situation,that would need your prayers,and support,would you not? So it will be wise,to show them some amount of empathy,and judge them not too coldly,recklessly,or harshly because all is well with you.

    Again,let me point out where I disagree with POTUS – If the termination of the DED program was done in good faith – well and good. But everyone knows that this isn’t the case at all,but rather they are being targeted because of the color of their skins.That is a fact! And let us not also forget the centuries of historical ties that bind Liberia,and the US,does it all now count as nothing?

    Should Donald be allowed to use a compulsive attitude of mean-spiritedness,and throw it all out of the window? Nope,even though I think they are fighting a losing battle against POTUS,I strongly believe to stand,and fight against insurmountable odds,is more satisfying,and glorious,that running cowardly away,tails between the legs. I mean think about it; if you cannot support them,the best thing to do is to keep quiet,and not add salt to already open wounds….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. Let these Liberians understand that the DED Program granted them is not a right but a privilege and opportunity given them by the president of the United States, so that by now should have been able to regularize their status since 2007. And if by now you are unable to get your status, which has been extended for many times by other presidents including President Trump. They must start preparing to leave for Liberia instead of taking court action against the same president who extended the program this year to March 2020.

    I am a Liberian legally living in the United States and have come to realize that most of these Liberians are here inserting violence in Liberia only to prove that indeed Liberia is not a safe and economically viable for them to return. This should not be condoned by the president anymore. Let them go and dance the drums they are beating in the United States. For those who owned properties here in the United States, start making arrangement to sell them or pass them to your children, nothing spoiled yaaaaa.

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