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WASHINGTON (AP) — Liberian immigrants living in Rhode Island and elsewhere in the United States without visas won't be sent back to the epicenter of the Ebola crisis in West Africa for at least another two years, President Barack Obama's administration said Friday.
Obama signed a memo extending a legal protection called deferred enforced departure, which continues a protection from deportation that has been in place for more than a decade.
The government first granted Liberians temporary protective status during their country's bloody civil war, which started in 1991 and ended in 2003.
That original protection expired in October 2007. President George W. Bush then approved deferred enforced departure for the community.
Obama later approved the same protection and Friday renewed again for two more years.
Rhode Island has one of the largest Liberian populations in the United States.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, applauded Obama's decision, which he says protects immigrants with long-standing ties to the United States.
Reed has introduced legislation that would grant permanent residence to many Liberians now living in the U.S.
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