Why Is TPS For Cameroon Immigrants Taking So Long?

temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Cameroon.
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Photos: Cameroon Advocacy Network

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, the Cameroon Advocacy Network (CAN), in collaboration with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), held a Congressional briefing on the need for a temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Cameroon.

The briefing had country conditions experts as well as impacted community members from CAN, Amnesty International, CASA, and the Center for Research, Education and Resources Distribution to the Rural and Underprivileged People. These individuals highlighted the deteriorating country conditions in Cameroon that make safe return impossible as they described the ongoing armed conflict, massive internal displacement, dangerous political conditions, and severe consequences for Cameroonians who have thus far been deported there.

The briefing was one of several actions organized by the network, including a bicameral Congressional letter to the administration and support for the introduction of the Cameroon TPS Act of 2021. The speakers at the briefing strongly request that Congressional offices contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and demand answers for the prolonged delay for TPS for Cameroon.

TPS is an essential humanitarian protection given to nationals of a certain country already living in the United States, if conditions in that country make safe return impossible. TPS protects people from danger and possibly death, allowing them to apply for temporary work permits in the United States. The DHS Secretary may designate a country for TPS if it meets any of the statutory country conditions requirements, which include armed conflict, natural disaster, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that make return unsafe.

Senator Van Hollen stated in his opening remarks: "The people of Cameroon are caught in a vicious undertow of violent unrest, political division, government corruption, terrorism, and a refugee crisis. . . We need to extend a lifeline to those who are here and cannot return to home safely, and it’s important to extend this designation as part of our commitment to human rights and international stability. . . It’s very clear that Cameroon meets the test for a TPS designation.”

Daniel Tse of the Cameroon Advocacy Network stated: “We have been waiting for DHS to act on Cameroon for years with little to no movement. TPS is an essential humanitarian protection that is readily available to the administration. The continuation of U.S. military assistance to Cameroon is particularly concerning given that Cameroon is a longstanding security partner and aid recipient of the United States, participating in and supporting counterterrorism operations in the region. However, U.S. military training and equipment are being used to facilitate human rights abuses in the Northwest and Southwest regions. Even in the face of mounting evidence, the Biden administration has continued to deport Cameroonians back to extremely dangerous conditions. We ask Congress members to inquire with DHS—what is taking so long?”

Adotei Akwei, Chief Collaboration Officer at Amnesty International USA, says: “With two brutal conflicts, a humanitarian crisis affecting nearly two million people, and a government that has allowed its security forces to commit egregious human rights abuses including decades-long torture in Cameroon – a record documented by the US State Department – it is hard to understand why the Biden administration is failing the people of Cameroon. President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas must designate Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status to ensure Cameroonians in the United States are not forcibly deported to certain danger or unjustly locked up in U.S. immigration detention for seeking safety here. Anything less amounts to a failure in the administration’s so-called human rights leadership.”

Austen, speaker and CASA member, stated: “People are crying but nobody is saying or doing anything about it. Standing for justice has become a crime in Cameroon—if you denounce injustice, you are considered a threat. We call for President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to support us and grant TPS for Cameroon.”

Felico Atabong, Human Rights Defender, Administrative Director of CEREDRUP, stated: “It is of utmost importance to give Cameroon a TPS designation, because deportees once they return are incarcerated in very horrible conditions. In the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, there is a complete collapse of state structures in the vast majority of the towns and villages. No courts nor administration or accountability.”

The Cameroon Advocacy Network is a coalition of organizations and activists across the United States and Cameroon, advocating for the freedom and dignity of Cameroonians.

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