Over 100 Liberians languishing in prisons in the United States and Canada stand the risk of deportation to Liberia. The disclosure was made in Washington D.C. by Liberia’s Ambassador accredited to the United States, Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, during a congressional hearing that brought together a cross section of Liberians in the diaspora and some members of the United States congress to discuss the current Ebola crises and the immigration status of Liberians on the Deferred Enforcement Deportation (DED) which expires in September of this year.
The Liberian envoy told attendees at the congressional hearing on the Ebola epidemic that about 50 Liberians that have committed different offenses and are currently incarcerated in Canada are awaiting deportation while another 64 are also listed for deportation to Liberia from the United States criminal justice system. ‘
According to Ambassador Sulunteh, this brings the total number of Liberians listed for deportation from Canada and the United States to 114.
He explained that with the current health crises in the country, the Liberian government, through its representation in both Canada and the United States, are working with immigration authorities to delay the deportation proceedings, noting that the deportation proceedings if executed will be a burden on the government and people of Liberia at this critical time in the history of Liberia.
He informed guests at the program that the Liberian government was seeking an alternative to the deportation proceeding by appealing to the governments of the United States and Canada to engage the Liberians listed for deportation into rehabilitation programs that would make them productive citizens, instead of deporting them to Liberia that is already devastated by the Ebola disease.
When immigration authorities were contacted both in Canada and the United States, they confirmed the presence of the Liberians in prison both in the United States and Canada. Immigration authorities in the two countries said as law enforcement institutions, they were authorized to arrest and turn over individuals who violate state law for legal action against them.
The immigration authorities in the two countries said if Liberians are found guilty of crimes committed, they would serve their respective prison term and later deported to Liberia.