Last week, President Barack Obama signed an order that would allow about 3,600 Liberians to stay in the United States for another 12 months, reports The Associated Press.
Since the country’s civil war in the early 1990s, Liberians have had temporary protected status, a designation given to people from countries considered too dangerous to return.
But, after what former President Bush declared as the final extension in 2007, the designation was going to expire March 31. This would have forced thousands to either return to Liberia or live in the United States illegally and risk deportation.
There are currently over 250,000 Liberians living in the United States. Many have settled in Georgia, Minnesota, North and South Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, reports the AP.
Supporters of the extension say that while the country has rebounded somewhat from the devastating civil war in the early 1990s, problems such as high unemployment and poor electricity and infrastructure make it a dangerous place to live, reports the AP. They are also hoping that, someday, they’ll be allowed to stay in the United States on a permanent basis.
People from Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan also have temporary protected status; Burundi’s is due to expire in May, Somalia’s in September.