40,000 Cameroonians Currently at Risk of Deportation to Deadly, Dangerous Conditions
Last week, following months of organizing and leadership from the Black immigrant advocacy community, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced the Cameroon TPS Act of 2021. The bill would provide protection from deportation and work authorization for the estimated 40,000 Cameroonians currently residing in the United States. At the time of introduction, Rep. Lofgren, who Chairs the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, said, “Cameroon is in the midst of multiple armed conflicts that make safe return to the country impossible. That’s why Congress should quickly pass this important legislation.” “It’s time for us to pivot from the shameful, intolerant immigration policy of the previous administration and embrace the true creed and meaning of our nation,” said Rep. Johnson.
Cameroonians have been coming to the U.S. as conditions in the country have deteriorated, and many who have come here are deported, incarcerated or sent back to Mexico or other countries. Cameroon is facing economic turmoil and there are at least five armed conflicts in the country, with security forces associated with the Cameroon government accused of having killed civilians, committed acts of arson, perpetrated widespread sexual violence, and tortured those suspected of dissent.
Cameroonians currently face the risk of being deported back to a dangerous situation where they will be at high risk of violence, including sexual violence and murder. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was created by Congress to address exactly the unsafe and rapidly deteriorating country conditions in Cameroon right now. The Biden Administration has the authority to immediately provide stability, safety, and dignity for Cameroonians and their families by designating TPS, stopping deportations and allowing the money sent home by Cameroonians in the U.S. to help stabilize the country. With growing pressure from Members of Congress, the human rights community, and African American leaders, the President also has a humanitarian responsibility to use his power to protect people.
A chorus of leading voices reflects the urgency and building momentum behind the Biden Administration designating Cameroon for TPS:
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights released a statement yesterday in response to the bill being introduced:
“Given the severe consequences of deportation and the widespread mistreatment of Cameroonian refugees in the U.S., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls upon President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to all Cameroonians currently residing in the United States.”
The Cameroon Advocacy Network, which is spearheading a nationwide day of action today in support of TPS for Cameroon, also released a statement:
“CAN believes a thriving and stable Cameroonian community requires freedom for all Cameroonians. We believe that we should start with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), asylum, resettlement assistance, a path to citizenship, as well as racial, social and economic justice for all Cameroonians. Included in that group are those who were deported, internally/internationally displaced persons and victims of the government-led violence in Cameroon.”
The advocacy organization CASA added their voice in support for TPS designation in Cameroon:
“There are 40,000 Cameroonians currently living in fear of being deported back to the United States. Cameroon is currently going through several social issues such as state-sponsored violence, massive overcrowding, as there 720,000 displaced people in the country as well as another 350,000 refugees from other countries. There is also a civil war going on between the Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country. Together, this is creating precarious country conditions that make it difficult for Cameroonians to return to home.
CASA urges President Biden to extend TPS to Cameroon so that those 40,000 no longer have to worry about being deported.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) led a bicameral letter to the Biden Administration earlier this year urging a TPS designation for Cameroon:
“We write to you today to request that you issue an immediate 18-month designation of either Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Cameroon, considering the worsening conditions in the country. A humanitarian crisis and civil war characterized by massive internal displacement, war crimes, and shortages of essentials like water, food, healthcare, and housing make safe return impossible, and your administration must act quickly to extend protection from deportation to Cameroonian nationals in the United States. The Trump Administration has shamefully mistreated and deported Cameroonian asylum seekers back to danger just this year. We urge you to do much better.”