OP-ED: U.S. Must Include Liberians on TPS in Any Immigration Legislation

As U.S. President Donald Trump presents his immigration plans to Congress, which includes a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” I am reminded of a Liberian saying; “Stealing from a thief makes God laugh.”

If the United States is to make any progress in addressing its domestic challenges of racism, economic disparities and crime; the issues of reparations for slavery and damages to Liberians for America’s destructive roles in the founding of Liberia and the devastating civil war must be prioritized.

The United States’ sins against Liberians date back to the unlawful congressional appropriations of US$100,000 to fund the American Colonization Society organized in 1816 to colonize free Blacks in Africa. The United States military also provided assistance to the American settlers to attack and subdue indigenous populations to exert unlawful control and expand the territory of Liberia. America’s complicity in the 1980 Military coup, the release of Charles Taylor from a Massachusetts prison and the assistance to launch the bloody civil war as well as support of the corrupt and undemocratic regime of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf further contributed to the ongoing instability for which the United States is liable.

The facts are undeniable. America was founded on genocide; Europeans took over land that was already settled by native Americans and displaced the inhabitants, who continue to suffer to this day. After the genocide, slaves were imported from Africa to build the wealth that undergird the foundations of America’s banks, insurance companies, and wealthy families. In 1820, free Blacks, whose blood and sweat build America’s wealth, were deported to Africa where they created Liberia and terrorized the indigenous inhabitants with the help of the United States government.

The 800-pound gorilla that is being ignored by Trump’s “shithole” immigration comments about countries with Temporary Protected Status, including Liberia, is that Liberians on TPS, not even President Trump, belong in America. The chickens have returned to roost. The enforcement of expelling of any Liberian out of the United States on immigration charges is illegal because when Congress appropriated US$100,000 to the American Colonization Society to settle free Blacks from the United States to Africa, it was also agreed that those who left the United States did so voluntarily and they may return anytime if they so desire.

Additionally, the complicity of the United States of America in the “release” of Charles Taylor to leave the United States to unleash the horrors of barbarism which forced Liberians to come to America, also means that Liberians on TPS must be compensated for the loss of property, trauma, and emotional distress. Moreover, the United States supported the corrupt and undemocratic regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which robbed not only Liberian citizens but American taxpayers through excessive salaries and benefits of top officials and lawmakers.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” the saying goes. If the descendants of European immigrants like President Trump are planning to expel the offspring of slaves whose blood and sweat build the United States before they were deported to Africa nearly two centuries ago because of America’s racist policies, Trump needs to be told America is a stolen property that does not belong to him.

The children of slaves and indigenous Liberians who suffered from abuse have returned to cash their cheques. Furthermore, because the Liberians on TPS fled a war engineered and sustained by the United States of America’s reckless foreign policy, America is liable to pay damages to all Liberian victims of the civil war in the United States.

Torli Krua

A pastor and human rights activist, Torli was instrumental in lobbying with US congressmen and policymakers to increase the quota of refugees from Africa being allowed into the US. He has also worked tirelessly in the New England region and beyond to champion the rights of refugees and immigrants. His organization, Universal Human Rights International, worked with thousands of immigrants from 38 different countries over the span of 20 years. He has been honored by the National Peace Corps Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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