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Anniversary of Tragic Ship Voyage Highlights Urgent Need for Special Humanitarian Parole for Cameroonians

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Today is the first anniversary of a tragic ship voyage where three Cameroonians died, 13 remain missing, and several were injured after their ship capsized in the Caribbean in an effort to reach safety in the U.S. To this day, Cameroonian survivors remain trapped in different Caribbean countries and cannot get safe passage to the United States to petition for asylum. 

Earlier this year, a group of Democratic Representatives, including Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and introduced a resolution requesting a special humanitarian parole program for thousands of Cameroonians affected by the ongoing violence. Congressman Trone stated that the U.S. has never created such a program for an African country in the seventy-year history of U.S. humanitarian parole, “the U.S. now has a chance to rectify this disparity by assisting Cameroonian immigrants by providing them with life-saving humanitarian parole in their time of need.”

Mario Carrillo, Campaigns Director at America’s Voice, said:

The United States has a long-standing tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and violence. It is imperative that we uphold this noble legacy and extend a helping hand to Cameroonians who have endured so much, including internal conflict, which has displaced more than 750,000 people. Granting Cameroonians humanitarian parole would be historic and take a step towards addressing anti-Africaness in immigration policies as it’s a program that has never been given to any African country, and it would allow the survivors of the shipwreck to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities.

Bruna Sollod, Senior Political Director of United We Dream, said:

Today especially, we are remembering the lives of the three Cameroonian migrants and the dozens more who went missing and were injured in the tragic boat tragedy that happened just a year ago. Everyone deserves to be able to move freely and safely, yet far too many people seeking safety are forced to take dangerous routes and encounter  devastating, even deadly voyages. There is no denying Black immigrants remain disproportionately impacted by our country’s immigration system, and to date, the US has yet to create a parole program for an African country in the 70-year history of humanitarian parole. It is imperative that our elected officials treat this with the urgency it requires to ensure everyone’s right to move, to seek safety, and to live free of harm are honored.