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Advocates Urge Biden Administration To Extend and Expand TPS For Cameroon: “Black Immigrants’ Lives Are At Stake”

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Immigrants and allies rallied outside the White House on Wednesday to urge the Biden administration to expand protections for Cameroonian immigrants currently in the United States. The rally, led by the Cameroon Advocacy Network and local Cameroonian community, urged officials to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Cameroon. Multiple humanitarian and political crises have made it too dangerous for nationals to safely return, advocates have said.

“Regrettably, the level of violence has been escalating in recent years,” Cameroon Advocacy Network tweeted during the rally this week. “Failure to redesignate and extend #TPS4Cameroon would carry dire human consequences for Cameroonian individuals currently residing in the United States.”

“HAPPENING NOW: Immigrant advocates are chanting in front of the @WhiteHouse,” tweeted grassroots advocacy group CASA. “@POTUS redesignate #TPS4Cameroon, Black immigrants’ lives are at stake. They cannot wait any longer!”

The rally in Washington, D.C.has been just one of several recent actions urging the Biden administration to use its existing authority under statute to protect immigrants currently in the country. Citing “extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2021 issued an initial 18-month designation of TPS for Cameroon. That deadline is approaching, and the Biden administration not only has an opportunity to extend this life-saving protection, but to also expand it to thousands more eligible people.

“While an extension would continue to provide protections for current TPS holders, a redesignation would allow all eligible Cameroonians in the U.S. to have access to this lifesaving form of humanitarian relief,” Cameroon Advocacy Network and FWD.us said in a policy brief.

“Human rights abuses against civilians continue to be widespread from all sides of the conflict, including violations of press freedom, arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual violence, kidnappings, and even extrajudicial killings,” the brief said. “At the same time, essential infrastructure like hospitals and schools have been devastated.” It would be unconscionable to return anyone to these conditions.

Extending and expanding this relief would also benefit U.S. families and communities, Cameroon Advocacy Network and FWD.us continued. “These community members already contribute $460 million to the U.S. economy each year, and 78% are in the labor force, providing essential services. Renewing and extending TPS protections would ensure that families can remain together and allow more Cameroonians in the U.S. to more fully contribute their skills and talents to the U.S. economy.”

“No one should be deported to a country where civilians are targets of armed conflict and human rights abuses,” tweeted the Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service. “We stand with @CamAdvocacy and other people of faith in supporting #TPS4Cameroon. @POTUS + @DHSgov must re-designate & extend now!”

During a press call shortly before the Labor Day holiday, union leaders and members, experts and advocates gathered to urge the Biden administration to widen its use of TPS, as an essential tool in strengthening labor rights and the U.S. economy. President Biden has used his authority in recent weeks to redesignate Sudan, South Sudan and Ukraine. He should continue using this relief for nations including El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Cameroon. 

“Doing so would be in line with the administration’s goals of realizing a more humane, safe, and orderly immigration system, while keeping families and communities safe and together,” Cameroon Advocacy Network and FWD.us said.