Solidary and compassion being two pillars of a concept hardly ever evocated in the world of international politics, CNN reports that thousands of Liberians might face expulsion from the United States.  On March 31, a federal immigration status created for humanitarian purposes will expire.

Indeed political asylum was never certified as granted under this decree. Temporary protection status implies the possibility of seeking refugee in the country for as long as the situation – a natural disaster or civil unrest – lasts. Charles Taylor’s dictatorship ended in 2006 and new president Ellen Johnson announced progress in Liberia. George W. Bush called for an “enforced delayed departure” for about 3,600 Liberians who had come to the United States.  They were all given 18 months to leave.  Approximatively 65% of them are facing the expulsion notice.

northern hospitality.

Senator Jack Reed (D.-RI): northern hospitality.

Corvah Akoiwala fled the brutality of the civil war and settled in Rhode Island in 1992. He married and had three children – all of whom were born on American territory, and are defacto declared as US citizens. Akoiwala’s children won’t face deportation, but in two months, Akoiwala and his wife will be illegal aliens.  “My fear is, who am I going to leave my kids with?” he said. “Who am I going to leave them with? I want to stay here and see them grow up to be responsible citizens and then I can go back.” In seventeen years, the Liberian community not only built families – they built homes, businesses, a life. The temporary protection status prohibits the asylum seekers from applying for citizenship, an extremely restricting close that the Senator of Rhode Island, Jack Reed (Democrat) wants to change. “They have children who are citizens of the U.S. How do you leave children behind who are eligible to stay? They’ve worked very hard, they’ve played by the rules, and they’ve paid their taxes. They’re here legally. I think that should be considered at least to let them stay.”

Reed believes that long-term immigrants participating in the everyday life and parents of American children should be allowed to become American citizens, not be deported for having fled a war-torn country. Reed declared that “they should be part of immigration reform. We shouldn’t pick and choose different immigrant groups.” Dan Stein, from the Immigration Bureau, defended the current stance on the temporary status decree, arguing that Liberia is their home, not the United States, regardless of how long they’ve been staying. “It is time for people to go back and rebuild their country,” he said, emphasizing the “temporary” definition of the decree under which Liberian citizens were allowed on US territory. He even believes that an application for citizenship would be “an abuse of US hospitality”. Moreover, Stein boldly states that it would be “a mockery of temporary humanitarian measures”.

Senator Reed was just following an internal logic implying that after a certain number of years of residency – in this precise case, almost two decades – a temporary measure was certainly no longer temporary, and morphed into long term. A citizen actively participating in the life of his adopted country, financially contributing as a tax-payer and personally involving his own life by parenting US citizen children should be allowed to call the country home, regardless of where he was born and the conditions in which he left his native country. The sensitive issue regarding the deportation of parents of minor children not falling under the decree’s sword is not one leaving much to discuss. More than making a mockery of the Immigration Bureau’s so-called “hospitality”, it is making a mockery of the ideology behind humanitarian measures and the welcoming capability of a nation that built its own history on political asylum seekers. Who’s going to pay their taxes now?

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