Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress highlights the urgency for the Biden administration to declare Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Cameroonian nationals in the United States, given the extraordinary and deteriorating conditions in the country that make a safe return impossible.
The report points out that the administration should use all the humanitarian tools available to help and support Cameroonians, since the country clearly meets the conditions for a TPS designation. After several decades of relative peace, Cameroon is facing major complex challenges, which have resulted in the internal displacement of thousands of people in addition to human rights abuses, including widespread kidnapping, torture, and killings.
While the severity of need is more extreme in certain regions of Cameroon, approximately 4.4 million people require humanitarian assistance throughout the entire country. Furthermore, approximately 2.6 million people in Cameroon are in acute food insecurity as a result of armed conflicts, compounded by COVID-19 prevention measures and extreme weather due to climate change. As such, designating Cameroon for TPS would provide temporary but much-needed protection for these nationals, who are already in the United States, in addition to giving their families security and stability.
Many Cameroonians have suffered ill-treatment and abuse in immigration detention, where they may face discrimination because of their race, and many are forced to return to a country where they could face grave harm and potential persecution. Records show that those deported often face a heightened risk of persecution, in addition to being subjected to the harms they originally fled, as many are targeted by the government headed by Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, who views them as opposition.
“Amid the backdrop of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Cameroon, the U.S. immigration system is failing Cameroonians,” said Silva Mathema, acting director for Immigration Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “While the United States is already on the ground in Cameroon working to increase access to health care, improve security, and provide humanitarian assistance, we need to step up and protect Cameroonian nationals already here from being returned to a place that is not safe for them. A TPS designation would provide a temporary relief from deportation and an opportunity to apply for work permits, which gives them a chance at a stable and secure life.”
“A humane and workable immigration system should be able to protect Cameroonians and other Black immigrants not only from deportation, but from facing racial equity issues while navigating the asylum and immigration systems in the United States,” said Zefitret Abera Molla, research assistant for Immigration Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “Despite Black immigrants representing only 5.4 percent of the U.S. undocumented population, data show that they represent more than 10 percent of all immigrants in removal proceedings. Providing TPS for Cameroonian immigrants is a first step toward improving the system.”
Read the report: “The Urgency of Designating Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status” by Silva Mathema and Zefitret Abera Molla
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