A Minnesota congressman is applauding the decision by President Obama to allow most Liberians living in the United States since that country's civil war 20 years ago to stay another 18 months.

Rep. Keith Ellison says there are about 3,600 Liberians in the United States on temporary status, and more than 1,000 of them are in Minnesota.

The Fifth District Democrat has introduced legislation that would allow Liberian nationals living in the United States under special immigration status to apply for permanent residency.

If the president had not approved the latest extension, the Liberians would have been subject to deportation after Sept. 30, when a previous Obama extension of their "temporary protected status" was to have expired.

The protective status began in 1991 as Liberians fled a civil war that ended in 2003.

ASSOCIATED PRESS