Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Liberians in America, Setting Up Shop

"Here, life is how you make it. Everywhere is hard, but here, it is ok for many of us. Because many of us came here unexpectedly, and we are doing good here." -- Martha Gargar-Charley, Liberian owner of an African food store.

This third installment of my five-part series on the Liberian diaspora takes a look at businesses that cater to and hire Liberians. Gargar-Charley and another woman profiled in this video are thriving -- they’re earning money and creating jobs.

But many Liberians in the United States live in fear that they will be forced to drop everything and go back to their war-ravaged homeland.

Thousands of those who fled Liberia and came to America live under the U.S. Temporary Protected Status program, which allows them to work and own property. However, their status is temporary, and could suddenly be revoked.

The U.S. government says Liberia is now stable, so Liberians should be able to go back. But with jobs and sometimes businesses and homes, as well as children with U.S. citizenship, many feel they should be allowed to remain in the United States.

Part One of this series looked into why so many Liberians live in Rhode Island, while part two was about how Liberian immigrants help young and old.