People of Faith Celebrate Announcement of TPS For Cameroon

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from Cameroon
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Photos: FWD\Michael Ade\SPLC

Washington, DC - Friday the Biden administration announced it will be granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from Cameroon currently in the United States. Having followed the lead of directly impacted groups including Cameroon Advocacy Network, UndocuBlack Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and others, member organizations of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition welcome this long-awaited news after many years of advocacy for protections for Cameroonians.

The nation of Cameroon has endured many years of socio-political tensions and armed group activity, which has left thousands dead, 4.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and over 1 million people internally displaced. Today’s decision will protect an estimated 40,000 Cameroonians from being returned to harm in Cameroon.

As faith groups observe Ramadan, Passover, and Good Friday, they rejoice in this decision that honors the truth that each human life is sacred, God-given, and worthy of protection. They urge the administration to immediately publish a Federal Register Notice (FRN) to provide eligible Cameroonians the opportunity to apply for TPS as soon as possible; promptly halt detention, expulsions, and deportations of Cameroonians in need of protection; rebuild a humane and welcoming asylum system; and grant TPS to other Black-majority nations in crisis, including Mauritania and Ethiopia.

“We are delighted and relieved to hear that TPS has been designated for Cameroon,” said Serges Demefack, Cameroonian leader and the End Detention and Deportation Project Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)-Newark, NJ. “This comes after years of organizing led by directly impacted community members and Black immigrant advocacy groups. TPS will allow Cameroonians in the U.S. to continue to build lives without the fear of deportation to an area experiencing extreme violence. We hope that the administration continues to take these momentous steps to help dismantle the anti-Black sentiment within the immigration system and we encourage similar actions for other Black and brown nations experiencing conflict. We urge the administration to immediately publish a Federal Register Notice (FRN) to allow eligible Cameroonians to apply for TPS, immediately stop all deportations, and to facilitate releases of those who are currently detained by ICE and CBP.”

“Temporary Protected Status will provide Cameroonians with the lifeline they so desperately need. Those impacted by this decision are our neighbors, our coworkers, and our friends. A TPS designation for Cameroon would not have happened but for the tireless work of Black-led immigrants’ rights organizations. For too long they have waited in fear, worrying that tomorrow could bring a return to danger, violence, and crisis; they certainly will be sleeping easier tonight,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CWS. “While we welcome this much-needed step toward a more equitable immigration system, many more in our communities need this same life-saving protection extended to them. We all have neighbors—whether from the Northern Triangle, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, or beyond—that wake each morning fearing that this could be the day their families are returned to peril. No one should have to live this way, the administration needs to act in their interests, too.”

“This life-saving victory was secured by countless hours of work and the extraordinary leadership of Black immigrants, including those at Haitian Bridge Alliance and Cameroon Advocacy Network,” said Lisa Parisio, Director of Advocacy at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. “While we celebrate, we also pray for and think about the Cameroonians who were deported to danger when TPS should have been in place. Slow-walked TPS designations are deadly and fly in the face of Congressional intent and the values of safe haven that underpin the law. Equitable policy and practice requires that TPS be used broadly, boldly, and immediately to respond to humanitarian crises for all countries in need.”

“The decision to extend Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonians comes as a great win for those seeking refuge and peace in this country,” said Rev. Kendal L. McBroom, The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society. “We hope that this is just a first step in creating a pathway for others from majority-Black and Brown nations to find a safe, welcoming haven in the United States and beyond. We welcome Cameroonians to our communities and pray that they find the hospitality Christ calls us to offer wherever they will reside. Furthermore, we hope this administration will stay in this Spirit and provide the necessary protection for countless others enduring civil war, famine, and the like.”

“The announced Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians is long awaited, and has been delayed far too long, despite the persistent push by Black-led immigrant groups,” said Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries. “The fact that the announcement comes on the day of Good Friday and the beginning of Passover underlines the experiences and liberation from suffering that are recalled in those Holy Days. May suffering now end for Cameroonians who have been living in fear!”

“A very welcome announcement on this day when Christians commemorate Good Friday and Jews celebrate Passover,” said Sister Marie Lucey OSF, Associate Director of Franciscan Action Network. “A TPS designation for Cameroonians has been a long time coming. It is both needed and deserved. While FAN thanks the Biden administration for listening to Black-led immigrant groups urging provision of TPS for Cameroonians, we hope that a TPS designation for more sisters and brothers from Black and Brown nations will be forthcoming.”

“Today we celebrate with the Cameroon Advocacy Network and many others who have been working so hard for the U.S. government to designate Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status,” said Susan Krehbiel, Associate for Refugees & Asylum, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. “We thank Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden Administration for hearing their pleas for safety. As we approach the end of Lent in our Christian calendar and turn our gaze toward Easter, we celebrate the new life that TPS makes possible for so many Cameroonians who have lived under the fear of deportation.”

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of over 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. Follow us on Twitter @interfaithimm

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