Extending Liberian DED Is a Bad Idea

Going from shades of gray to black and white

By Dan Cadman on March 27, 2019

I recently had occasion to post a blog in which I said bluntly that granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans would be a singularly bad idea for the Trump administration, despite the existence of dire conditions within the country due to the misrule of former Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez and his even less-capable successor Nicolas Maduro, both Marxist socialists:

The bottom line message is clear: Any grant of TPS, once made, becomes nearly irrevocable and results not only in resistance to termination when the program logically should end — which is to say, when the natural or man-made disaster that led to the grant in the first place is over — but increasing demands to grant another privileged group the right to remain forever.


[W]hy would this administration shoot itself and all future administrations in the foot by creating one more special program for aliens who, instead of being thankful a few years up the road for having been given respite and succor, instead take to the streets like so many others have to demand the "right" to remain forever?

In follow-up, my colleague David North added his own remarks in agreement, when reflecting on the special program(s) that were developed for Cubans after its takeover by hard-line Marxists.

Although it was useful for the individual departing Cubans, the revolutionary energy needed to overthrow Castro soon settled down in Miami, taking pressure off the regime in Havana and keeping it off for decades.

All of the observations made in these blogs are cogent reasons for this administration, more than others, to give very strong thought before lending its weight to programs that by their nature single out a group of aliens for special treatment. They undermine the notion of an even-handed system of laws and immigration controls, and in the end aren't really even good for the nations whose people are so "favored".

All of this should mitigate against engaging in special interest pandering for particular groups of aliens living "under color of law" in the United States solely because we have given them permission, even though they were for the most part illegally here to begin with. It seems self-evident that this would be true particularly for the Trump White House which has made immigration enforcement and control its signature issue.

But if it's true of TPS programs, it's doubly true for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), a made-up program established for Liberians as a substitute for TPS. Here's what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has to say about DED:

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is a temporary, discretionary, administrative stay of removal granted to aliens from designated countries. Unlike TPS, DED emanates from the President's constitutional powers to conduct foreign relations and has no statutory basis. [Emphasis added.]

That's a generous assessment if ever I've read one. The only part that rings indubitably true is the "no statutory basis" part. Like the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which the Trump administration has been fighting in the courts to end, it is constitutionally dubious. Extending domestic immigration protections to a designated class of aliens under the guise of "foreign relations" is as questionable a stretch as its other theoretical legal prong, exercising prosecutorial discretion. Except that any program that benefits huge numbers of people without a legal basis isn't "discretion", it's abuse of discretion. In March of last year. I wrote a blog about this misuse of presidential powers with specific regard to Liberians. Everything that was true then remains true today.

So, with all of this in mind why is the Trump administration even remotely considering extension of DED for Liberians?

It undercuts the administration's own position where DACA is concerned. Furthermore, it said a year ago that it was ending this TPS lookalike program, which long ago outlived its purpose.

It also undercuts the position taken by the administration in the various lawsuits filed against it to prevent termination of several TPS programs, which at least were founded on a real statute.

And, finally, as I indicated in my prior blog, Liberians still in Liberia consider the program a sham and have asked some hard questions about why those residing here under DED are not instead returning home to rebuild their country, and why the United States isn't obliging them to do so. This hearkens to the point that North made when speaking to the mistake of granting Cubans special access to the United States. It does nothing to foster positive change in the country whose nationals are the beneficiaries.

Where immigration matters are concerned, I sometimes think that there are two men named Donald Trump simultaneously residing in the White House, and I don't mean Don Jr. You just never know which one is going to make an appearance next.