March 26, 2019 | Office of Attorney General Keith Ellison

Press Release

Attorney General Ellison moves to protect Minnesota’s Liberian community

Leads multistate coalition of AGs in supporting Liberians who have filed to block termination of DED status

March 26, 2019 (SAINT PAUl) — Attorney General Keith Ellison has co-led a coalition of attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia in supporting Liberians who have filed suit to block President Trump’s termination of their Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) status. Minnesota is home one of the country’s largest Liberian communities, with nearly 16,000 people who were born in Liberia or claim Liberian ancestry. 

“Liberians in Minnesota are our co-workers, our neighbors, and our friends,” Attorney General Ellison said. “They volunteer in our communities with us and worship with us. Their children are our children’s friends and our fellow citizens. Many of them do the hard work of taking care of us and our loved ones when we can’t care for ourselves, because so many healthcare workers in our state are Liberian.

“But President Trump, unlike the four presidents before him, has put an end to the common-sense protections that have kept our Liberian friends and neighbors safe in Minnesota and safe from strife in Liberia. I’ve led this coalition because when the Liberian community lives with dignity, safety, and respect, as it has in Minnesota for decades, every Minnesota community thrives,” Attorney General Ellison continued.

“When the President won’t protect Minnesotans, I’ll use the powers of the Attorney General to protect them,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.

DED is an immigration program authorized by the President that allows foreign nationals whose countries have experienced armed conflict, civil unrest, natural disasters, or public health crises to stay in the country lawfully. Liberian nationals have been protected either by or DED or Temporary Protected Status since 1991, following the outbreak of civil war in Liberia in 1989 that led to many Liberians fleeing to Minnesota for their safety and that of their families. Subsequent presidents have extended DED for Liberians.

On March 27, 2018, President Trump issued a direction terminating DED protections for Liberians, effective next Sunday, March 31, 2019. Starting on that date, Liberian immigrants who have been DED beneficiaries — some for more than two decades — may be subject to deportation.

A group of plaintiffs who are scheduled to lose DED protections because of President Trump’s directive filed suit on March 8, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In ACT vs. Trump, they claim that President Trump’s change to DED policy for Liberians is unconstitutional because it was based on racial animus and national-origin discrimination, deprived DED beneficiaries of due process under the Constitution, and violates their constitutional rights to family integrity. They have filed a motion for the court to enjoin the Trump Administration from enforcing the President’s directive by removing Liberian immigrants who are DED beneficiaries. If granted, the injunction would prevent the administration from implementing the President’s directive, at least until the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights are fully adjudicated in federal court. 

In an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs, Attorney General Ellison and the attorneys general argue that their states’ economies and communities would be harmed by the deportation of Liberians, who are hardworking colleagues and civic-minded community members. The healthcare sectors in Minnesota and the people who benefit from them would be particularly harmed, as many Liberians are valued healthcare workers. Attorney General Ellison also argues that Minnesota has an interest in protecting the welfare of children born to Liberian parents and raised here as U.S. citizens and in ensuring that these children continue to live in stable and loving homes with their parents.

Attorney General Ellison was joined by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in leading a coalition of the attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia in filing this brief.