Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More on TPS

This story on the end of Temporary Protected Status for Liberians in the US really gets to some of the important issues and conflicts. And it's the first time I've ever seen President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf quoted as saying that the country can't absorb all of the US refugees right now. I suspect that behind those words there's some concern for the country's loss of remittance income (wire transfers) from the US, which must be among the top three revenue sources for Liberia.

TPS ends October 1.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am always highly suspicious of someone who writes from Minnesota and claims to know what the Liberian government is thinking about an issue. It is very clear to me that with limited job opportunities today, Liberia cannot absorb many more returnees. Unlike returnees from West African countries (who are largely farmers and rural dwellers without any expectation for a serious job), those returning from Europe and America are largely mid-level professionals. Senior level professionals are fully integrated in the U.S. and European workforce and have permanent immigration status or are now citizens. I don't see any viable employment opportunities for the mid-level professionals in Liberia today. It would be nice if thousands of incompetent civil servants (high school drop outs, etc) could be fired and their jobs given to these returnees who could really do the job. I don't see how that happens without social unrest. UNMIL will probably need another 20 thousand troops to maintain order if that happens. But I believe Liberians who still have TPS status having resided in the U.S. for several years ought to begin returning home. I think the process should be gradual. Say, the U.S. could return 1000 individuals a year. I don't know the total number of Liberians who were granted TPS but I suspect that this number does not exceed 10,000 since many individuals who have lived in this country for over a decade may already have a family and settled here and acquired permanent immigration status.

It would be great if one could all of a sudden have doctors, engineers, academics, nurses, etc. returning to Liberia where they are most needed. I can assure you that it is not going to happen. Since for these professionals, they are permanent residents and they are not going to risk their livelihood and abandon their families to start life anew....something they did more than a decade ago, I may add, when they fled Liberia. I believe that Liberian organizations should negotiate with the U.S. authorities for a scheduled return of Liberians on the TPS program. Those who are still on the program should return to Liberia where in the long-run, they will be better off. However, I don't believe all of them should be forced to return in a month.

In any case, for every 1 Liberian granted TPS there is probably 20 to 30 who are permanent residents.

The government of Liberia needs to focus on how it can offer them incentives to return to Liberia. These professional could easily take over the jobs of foreigners currently working in the U.N. system in Liberia and with some non-governmental organizations. We know the country and in many instances have far superior education to those working with the U.N. and NGOs. I am speaking of Liberians with graduate degrees who work here and are willing to make some sacrifice and return home. The only viable employment in the short-term is with the U.N. system. The U.N. should commit itself to hiring a few hundred or thousands of these professionals. Liberia could use a few professionals today.

2:15 PM  
Blogger whowantscake said...

ummm, didn't you get the memo? you gotta use the new cover sheet for the tps reports...

2:51 AM  

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