More than 70 members of Minnesota's Liberian community visited the Minnesota office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar to express their appreciation for her leadership in support of federal legislation to reverse a government order that would force thousands of Liberian refugees who have been living for years in the United States to return to their war-torn country.
Klobuchar is co-sponsor of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2007 (S. 656), which would allow Liberians who have been living temporarily in the United States the opportunity to apply for permanent residency. Minnesota is home to more Liberians than any other state in the country. Due to a brutal civil war, many Liberians fled their homes in the late 1980s and 1990s. Some of these Liberians have been living in the United States on Temporary Protected Status (TPS), an immigration status that has been renewed annually since 1991. It provides Liberians the legal permission to live and work in the United States as long as conditions in their home country remain precarious.
However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has ruled that TPS will end for Liberians on October 1, 2007. As a result, at least several thousand Liberians who had been granted temporary protection would be forced to leave the United States.
"Many of these Liberian refugees have lived and worked here almost two decades," said Klobuchar. "They have opened businesses, bought homes and paid taxes. They have set down deep roots and become a vital part of our state. Forcing them back to Liberia at this point doesn't do any good for anyone." Klobuchar noted that many Liberian refugees now have American-born children, who qualify as U.S. citizens and would be left behind if their parents were deported.