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West African Nations Recovering From Ebola Ask White House to Extend Protected Status

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Karina Edouard,  Main Phone: (845) 480-0844,  E-mail: karina@africans.us
New York  (Wednesday, March 2, 2016)

West African Nations Recovering From Ebola Ask White House to Extend Protected Status

 

New York, NY. – The ambassadors of three West African nations stricken by the Ebola epidemic contacted the White House this week, asking for continued humanitarian protection of their nationals in the United States.

Ambassadors for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone each sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, asking the White House to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation that is set to expire in May of this year.

President Obama enacted TPS for the three nations on November 21, 2014, at the height of the Ebola epidemic. TPS recognizes conditions in a country that would endanger nationals returning from the United States. TPS beneficiaries are permitted to remain in the U.S. temporarily and granted temporary work authorization permits.

The current TPS designations for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are set to expire on May 20, 2016; 18 months after they were enacted. The countries are asking for TPS to be extended an additional 18 months.

The ambassadors noted the continued public health risks of new Ebola “flare-ups”, particularly given the long dormancy period of the virus. The letters also drew attention to the damage that the epidemic had done to their nations’ economies, health care systems, and infrastructure.

“Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have made a heroic effort to contain and recover from Ebola, but the risk and the damage of the epidemic are ongoing,” said Amaha Kassa, director of African Communities Together (ACT), an organization advocating for TPS reauthorization. “It’s ironic that Homeland Security continues to ask travelers at airports whether they’ve visited these countries, but hasn’t yet extended protection to nationals who would be forced to return there.”

The ambassadors also noted the importance of the diaspora to economic recovery. Lawrence Bureh, a member of ACT and TPS beneficiary, sent home money and supplies to his family in Sierra Leone throughout the epidemic. “TPS gave me the opportunity to work legally and establish myself. When I got my job, I shared all of my income with my family in order for them to find a safe place to live away from Ebola,” Bureh said. “They still need my support, and we still need TPS.”

African Communities Together and the Guinean, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean communities will continue lobbying the White House to reauthorize Temporary Protected Status for Ebola-affected countries.

Copies of the official letters from the ambassadors of GuineaLiberia, and Sierra Leone may be found here.

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African Communities Together is a nonprofit organization of African immigrants fighting for civil rights, opportunity, and a better life for our families here in the United States and back in Africa. ACT empowers African immigrants to integrate socially, get ahead economically, and engage civically.

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