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News: Politics

Ilhan Omar bringing Liberian immigrant facing deportation threat to State of the Union

The Hill logo The Hill 2/4/2019 Avery Anapol
a person smiling for the camera: Ilhan Omar bringing Liberian immigrant facing deportation threat to State of the Union © Greg Nash Ilhan Omar bringing Liberian immigrant facing deportation threat to State of the Union

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced Monday that her State of the Union guest will be a Liberian immigrant who is facing possible deportation due to a Trump administration policy change.

Omar said in a statement that her guest will be Linda Clark, a Minnesota resident who has lived in the U.S. since 2000, after fleeing Liberia due to an ongoing civil war.

"Linda is exactly the type of American success story we should celebrate," Omar, a Somali immigrant herself, said in the statement. "Someone who came to this country seeking a better life, played by the rules, and built a life for herself."

Omar's statement said that the Trump administration's decision to end Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberian Americans means Clark and thousands of others may be removed from the U.S. in the coming months.

Last March, Trump issued a memo ending DED for Liberian citizens, which allowed those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to remain in the U.S. after their TPS designation ended.

TPS is a temporary status given to people from certain countries that generally allows them to stay in the United States legally. It has generally been given to people escaping wars or natural disasters, including citizens from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

The Liberian people affected by Trump's order have been instructed to leave the U.S. or seek other immigration status if eligible before the end of March 2019.

The administration has argued that TPS was always meant to be temporary, but critics of the decision argue it will send people back to dangerous situations.

Omar criticized the president's actions on immigration in her statement Monday, referencing a report that he privately referred to immigrants from African countries and Haiti being from "shithole countries."

"The President himself has expressed open hatred towards people fleeing what he calls 's--thole countries' like Liberia and Haiti and now he is acting on it," Omar said. "I hope by hearing the stories of people directly impacted he can at long last find some empathy."

Linda Clark said in the statement that she is "honored" to be invited to the State of the Union by Omar, and referred to the decision to end DED for Liberians as "hateful."

"Donald Trump should be ashamed of himself for deliberately targeting people like me," she said. "[I] hope the President will listen to my story."

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