Dear Mr. President:
I write to thank you for your promise to put the interest of the American people first in everything you do. This letter is an urgent plea for compassion and a request for a waiver of all immigration filing fees for thousands of Liberian beneficiaries of the Liberian Refugee Fairness Act, which you signed into law on December 20, 2019.
We are grateful to you, Mr. President, and Senator Jack Reed, for bringing an end to the long night of unnecessary suffering that Liberian Refugees have endured in the United States in the past thirty years. Thank you, Mr. President!
There are five compelling reasons why a waiver of fees is an urgent necessity:
- Firstly, an act of compassion in waiver of fees is in the interest of many young Americans whose mothers cannot afford thousands of dollars in fees. President, your call to duty and the first promise of your presidency were to put the interest of Americans first, especially the young and vulnerable.Â
- Secondly, America has a tradition of extending compassion to refugees. Under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States of America, individuals admitted to the United States as refugees are exempt from paying filing fees for adjustment of status. For decades, this act applied to Somalis, Vietnamese, and Syrians. Doubtless, this tradition of compassion will be welcomed by beneficiaries of the Liberian Fairness Act.
- Thirdly, although some Liberians were granted Temporary Protected Status, most of the beneficiaries of the Liberian Fairness Act were excluded and denied work permits and access to humanitarian assistance since October 1, 2002. These include Liberian mothers airlifted to safety by U.S. Marines during Operation Shining Express ordered by your Republican predecessor, President George Bush, on June 12, 2003. Later, under two terms of President Barack Obama, these Liberian refugee mothers and their African American children suffered needlessly without permits to work. We believe requiring this vulnerable population of refugees denied work permits for decades to pay thousands of dollars in fees during the global Coronavirus pandemic and its damaging economic impact will only defeat the purpose of the Liberian Fairness Act. Many jobless refugees will not meet the deadline for filing.
- Fourthly, the Coronavirus is negatively impacting the global economy and vulnerable Americans. As a result, Congress is contemplating a stimulus of direct payment of trillion dollars to Americans and states are freeing prisoners. Meanwhile, the invisible enemy, Coronavirus is destroying lives without regards for the immigration status of the lives it claims globally. Because of the looming deadline of December 19, 2020 and the encroaching Coronavirus, time is not on our side and compassion is an urgent necessity!
- Finally, when Liberians fled the violence of the civil war, some went to Denmark, Finland, Germany, Canada, and Australia. These countries with absolutely no ties to Liberia welcomed Liberian refugees and immediately provided humanitarian assistance and citizenship. In addition to trauma and new challenges of new climatic conditions, cultures and languages compassion from the hosts made the conditions bearable. On the other hand, the American experience for Liberian refugees has been unbearable.
Mr. President, 2020 is not only the year of the Coronavirus â€“ it’s also an election year, the last year of your first term and the year of the national census. In the past thirty years, we have pleaded nights and days while Democrats and Republican presidents have come and gone.
Even so, the plight of refugees from the only American colony in Africa that hosted American refugees and descendants of African slaves whose sweat, tears, and blood built not only the United States of America but who also built the White House remained unattended to.
Yes, America hosts refugees from all over the world. Yet Liberia is the only country in the world that hosted American refugees for two centuries. When Liberians fled to America from a war that was plotted and executed from Boston, Massachusetts, Liberian refugees were literally left out in the cold for thirty years, until the Fairness Act of December 20, 2019!
We are convinced that your commitment to putting Americans first, which won the struggle for fairness during your administration, will prevail in winning compassion for a waiver of fees for Liberian refugee beneficiaries of the â€œFairness Act.â€ The same waiver of fees that millions of refugees from Vietnam, Somalia, Russian and Iraqi refugees have enjoyed in the past decades in America. Thanks for your kind consideration of our request for compassion. God Bless America.
Rev. Torli H. Krua, Founder, Universal Human Rights International (UHRI)
Featured photo courtesy of Emmanuel Gospel Center