Sirleaf Writes Representative Patrick J. Kennedy

Friday, 20th April 2007
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written U.S.Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, offering her administration’s support of a legislature being sponsored by the lawmaker to grant permanent residence status to Liberians living in the United States.

In the letter, the President recalled her address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress last year and a meeting earlier this year with the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, in which she informed the lawmakers that Liberia was on the path to a remarkable recovery, but stressed the difficult path and a considerable amount of time needed to achieve total success. Liberia, the President reminded the US lawmaker needs time to rebuild and recover and can not absorb and provide for an influx of returnees from the United States and elsewhere.

“I therefore strongly support providing the Liberians who are in the United States the opportunity to adjust their status to permanent residency, and to lift the uncertainty and anxiety they suffer from because of their tenuous legal status,” the letter dated April 18, 2007 pleaded.

The President in the letter to Representative Kennedy observed that thousands of Liberians have lived in the United States for almost 17-years. “The Liberians have rebuilt and begun their lives anew in America,” the President noted. The President pointed out that Liberians in the U.S. have established careers, built homes, raised American born children, and are valued contributors to their communities.

“…America’s Liberian community has also not forgotten their ancestral homeland, and has played a pivotal supporting role in Liberia’s nascent recovery,” the Liberian leader noted in her letter.
Many others, the President said, send remittances home to support family members who remain in Liberia, providing critical lifeline of financial assistance and economic stability.  Others, the President emphasized, travel home to lend their technical expertise to rebuilding efforts or to form nonprofit groups based in the United States that assist humanitarian and development efforts.

Providing residency to those Liberians who are unable to return to Liberia, the President pleaded with the lawmakers, would place them in a condition to not only continue their contributions to American society, but also to continue their contributions to their ancestral homeland’s reconstruction and development.

The Liberian leader expressed concern over the prospects of Liberian-American families forcibly uprooted and separated.  President Johnson Sirleaf expressed her administrations support for Representative Kennedy’s efforts to assist these Liberian-American families, and hope the U.S. Lawmaker’s efforts will further strengthen one of the deepest ties that bind the two countries and its people.