March 27 (UPI) -- The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will end special protected immigration status for Liberians who have lived in the United States legally for decades.
Approximately 4,000 Liberians were given Temporary Protected Status in 1991 when the country was engulfed by a civil war and have been living in the United States ever since. After the civil war there ended, the U.S. State Department deemed the security situation in Liberia to be too risky and TPS recipients were given Deferred Enforced Departure status.
President Donald Trump's decision ends DED status for Liberians and recipients will now have until March 31, 2018 to obtain another form of legal immigration status, return to their country, or face deportation.
"Through consultation with appropriate executive departments and agencies and my advisors, I have been informed that conditions in Liberia have improved," Trump said in a memorandum Tuesday. "Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance. Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals."
Rose Knuckles Bull, a Liberian immigrant with DED status living in New York, told USA Today that going back to Liberia after more than 25 years in the United States would upend his life.
"It would be unfair to force us to return to Liberia without anything, and start all over again at this age," he said.
The Liberians' TPS and DED status has been several extensions of 18 months by previous presidents, with the last one granted by President Barack Obama in 2016. Trump's decision lets that renewal expire.
Trump has now let TPS renewals expire for immigrants from several countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.