With a sweep of the pen, President Joe Biden extends the deferred enforced departure for some 10,000 Liberians now living and working legally in the U.S.
Jackson Pyne, president of the Liberian Association of Northeast Pennsylvania, says Liberians impacted by the order came to the U.S. to escape civil war and received temporary protected status.
The conflict ended in 2003 and that status expired in 2007. But each president since then has extended the DED, until the Trump administration, which believed the situation in Liberia had improved, eliminating the need for an extension.
"Even though Liberia is not at war now but the living conditions would be more like a war," Pyne said.
Pyne says roughly 250 Liberians live in the Lehigh Valley.
Local immigration officials say many have questions about exactly what the order means. Initially, it means those under DED can stay through June of 2022. But attorney Ray Lahoud sees Biden's extension as a possible sign of things to come.
"I think the president is doing now is putting a pause on everything in the hope that they can work on comprehensive immigration reform," Lahoud said.
Lahoud says part of that reform might be a path to citizenship, where for some Liberians there was none before.