There’s still hope for Juwle Nagbe. As you may recall, I wrote about Nagbe a month ago. He’s a pastor at three churches in Lisbon and Enderlin, N.D. Nagbe came to the United States from Liberia in 1997 after escaping certain death in the Liberian Civil War.
Nagbe and about 4,000 others from Liberia have been allowed to stay in the United States as part of the Deferred Enforcement Departure program, known as DED. President Trump had ordered that program to end on March 31, meaning Nagbe would have been sent back to Liberia. However, on March 28, Trump extended the program for another year. Then, those Liberians are scheduled to be deported. There is no path to citizenship for those in the DED program. If Nagbe had a spouse, parent or child who is an American citizen he could try to become a citizen through them, but he doesn’t.
Meantime, since my column about Nagbe, he has been touched by many people who have contacted him and want to help.
“Everybody in Lisbon and Enderlin has supported me,” Nagbe said. “Everybody said we can’t let this happen. They all said we don’t want you to go.”
They are helping Nagbe in an effort to obtain a religious worker visa. Obtaining that visa is a tough battle and also not a path to citizenship. However, it would allow him to stay and work in the U.S. for up to five years. They are also contacting the North Dakota Congressional delegation, helping him request temporary work authorization along with other massive paperwork, and arranging for him to get a new passport at the Liberian embassy in Washington or consulate in New York.
All of this costs thousands of dollars. Fortunately, his numerous supporters have impressively stepped up to the plate. They have set up special bank accounts for donations at BankNorth in Lisbon and Enderlin. Many people have already contributed, while a local nursing home is having a bake sale.
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Myrene Peterson, a member of the Enderlin Methodist Church, has taken the lead in the all-out effort to keep Nagbe here.
“He needs help. He’s a Christian. That’s what you do,” Peterson said. “Immigration is very hard, but we have great faith it’s going to turn out well.”
It’s fantastic that Nagbe has such a great support system, but what do other Liberians do here without that kind of love, guidance and financial assistance? How do they stay here? President Trump needs to either make the DED program permanent or Congress needs to act. There are thousands of people who have well-established lives in the U.S., and nothing to go back to in Liberia. Meantime, the support for Nagbe is heartwarming.
“He’s extremely kind and concerned about people, but not himself,” Peterson said. “He’s concerned about everyone else.”
“I am feeling the love and acceptance,” Nagbe said. “I feel overwhelmed by the support.”