African Communities Together (ACT) and its lawyers, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, have vehemently vowed to appeal the Boston Federal District Court’s rejection of their lawsuit against the forced departure from Liberia (DED) against President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. The issue in the case filed by ACT, community organizations and 15 Liberian DED holders is whether President Trump’s decision to end the DED program is illegal?
The complainants believe that the president’s decision to end the program is rooted in racism and racial hostility rather than the current and existing conditions in Liberia.
Counsel for the defendants argued that the DED program exists at the discretion of the President. Therefore, the tribunal lacks jurisdiction and cannot compel the president to extend DED to Liberians.
They also argue that organizational plaintiffs, including Act, UndocuBlack Network, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, do not have standing to challenge President Trump’s Section 111 shutdown of the program. . “Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts to certain” matters “and” controversies. “
On October 25, Massachusetts District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman gave his consent to the defendants, subsequently granting motions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction and lack of declaration.
“Although the Court finds that the plaintiffs have suffered prejudice in fact, the Court regrettably sees no way of repairing this prejudice,” Judge Hillman wrote in his decision siding with the defendants. “In order to renew the DED, the President must take positive action, and this Court cannot compel the President to take that action in the circumstances of this case. Thus, the Court grants the defendants’ motion to dismiss, ”noted the judge. But lawyers for the plaintiffs believe Judge Hillman’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit is wrong.
“We do not agree with the court’s decision, which is why we are appealing,” said Maryum Jordan, counsel, Special Litigation and Advocacy Project, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in her response to an inquiry soliciting comments on this story.
“The Court concluded that the individual and organizational complainants did not have standing under Article III because the Court did not have the power to grant them a remedy related to the termination of the DED. This conclusion is the basis of our appeal, ”concluded Ms. Jordan.
Amaha Kassa, executive director of ACT, said they were disappointed with the judges’ decision, but are happy to see the judge concluded that Liberians are clearly injured in ending DED. Mr Kassa is encouraged that the judge has also found that individual plaintiffs and organizations that have sued on their behalf are able to sue.
“What we think is the decision was a mistake. We believe that in particular in a case where a decision to end the DED was based on illegitimate, illegal and discriminatory grounds, a judge can order that this decision to terminate be annulled ”, insisted Mr. Kassa in his reaction to Judge Hillman’s decision.
“So that’s what we’re asking for, that’s what we’ve been asking for from the start. We believe the court has the power to grant this and our plan is to appeal. We are preparing an appeal to address this 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 draws near, anxiety and uncertainty loom in Staten Island, New York, home to thousands of Liberians, said Jennifer Gray-Brumskine, a Liberian immigrant (now American Citizen) and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Staten Island Liberian Community Association.
“These people have never been so nervous in their life, everyone is so scared,” Gray-Brumskine said in an interview. Adding: “Instead of showing a 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 to Liberians will lose their parents if they are 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 home.
Currently, Liberia is the only country eligible 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.
While the actual number of Liberian DED holders is unclear, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services indicate that there are around 3,600 Liberian DED holders and around 840 with a work permit or license. work permit approved in the United States.