October 6, 2023
Contact: Paola Luisi, pluisi@haitianbridge.org

San Diego, California – The Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) and the Cameroon Advocacy Network (CAN) applaud the recent decision by the Biden-Harris Administration to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the people of Cameroon currently living in the United States.

The country is marked by political instability, multiple armed conflicts, and unrest. Citing risks linked to kidnapping, gun violence, and carjacking, among others, the U.S. Department of State has issued “Do Not Travel” warnings for six regions in Cameroon: the North, Far North, North-West, South-West, and parts of Adamawa and East. In a State Department report on Cameroon, the U.S. contended that “Cameroon faces ongoing violence in the Northwest, Southwest, and Far North from separatists and insurgent groups, as well as the resurgence of longstanding intercommunal conflict in the Far North region.” The country’s government has also consistently violated the basic human rights of Cameroonians. These instances of state-sanctioned violence are inflicted by Cameroon security forces, who suppress the right to free speech and arbitrarily detain critics of the government. The security forces also inflict sexual violence, torture, and extrajudicial killings on political opponents and dissenters, as well as the burning of entire communities suspected of harboring any sentiments of dissent towards the government.

Much of the human rights violations in the country’s Far North region can be credited to Boko Haram, a group the U.S. Department of State recognizes as a terrorist organization that originated in Nigeria and spread to neighboring countries such as Cameroon. A report by Human Rights Watch stated that “Boko Haram’s attacks are often indiscriminate, including suicide bombings in crowded areas,” such as schools, mosques, and refugee camps, “that appear designed to maximize civilian deaths and injuries.” The report also asserts that there are almost daily killings that can be attributed to the regime, which has contributed to the internal displacement of over 400,000 Cameroonians.

Guerline Jozef, Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, Founding member of Cameroon Advocacy Network and Co-founder of the Black Immigrants Bail Fund, said, “We applaud and welcome the Biden-Harris Administration, in particular, Secretary Mayorkas for their compassionate decision to redesignate and extend Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which reflects its commitment to humanitarian values. By offering TPS to Cameroon, the Administration is affording affected individuals an opportunity to rebuild their lives, access education, secure employment, and contribute positively to their communities, all while being shielded from the threat of deportation to unsafe conditions” She continues, “We are forever grateful to the US Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Hank Johnson were joined by over 25 of their colleagues in calling on this extension and re-designation for Cameroon. We call for TPS protections for The DRC, Nicaragua, Haiti, Mali, Mauritania and Ethiopia acknowledging that crises affecting these nations demand the same urgent attention and compassion.”

Daniel Tse, Founding Member of Cameroon Advocacy Network, said, “Today’s decision secures protection for thousands of Cameroonians in the United States living in fear and uncertainty. Although we are elated, we do acknowledge that this decision came with immense advocacy, from humanitarian leaders and members of congress. The request for temporary protected status (TPS) redesignation has been the Cameroon Advocacy Network’s (CAN) top priority as I have on several occasions watched my brothers and sisters sent back to danger in Cameroon while in chains. The images I have seen resemble that of times of slavery. As history has taught us, when it comes to Black immigrants, there’s always retaliation, reluctance and relegation involved. Given that this is the system that we work within, the fight is not over yet! We will continue to work with our allies and push for humanitarian parole for those unjustly deported.

Sarah Decker, Staff Attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, said, “We thank the administration for redesignating and extending this critical protection for Cameroonian immigrants in the United States. TPS will ensure that Cameroonians are protected from deportation back to a country that continues to experience multiple humanitarian crises. We urge the administration to continue safeguarding Cameroonians and other Black immigrants in the US by halting unconscionable deportations back to countries experiencing extreme violence and ending its use of harsh deterrence measures, including immigration detention and abusive border policies.”

Amy Fischer, Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA, said, “Amnesty International USAAmnesty International USA welcomes the extension and re-designation of temporary protected status for Cameroon. This is an incredible victory for the Cameroonian community in the United States, who have fought long and hard for this protection. The administration must now move to implement this announcement in a timely fashion and speed up processing times for adjudications to make TPS truly meaningful for the Cameroonian community. While we welcome this incredible news, we remain deeply concerned about the ever-worsening human rights situation for those who continue to seek safety in the United States, and encourage the Biden administration to halt deportations to Cameroon and to act swiftly to restore protections for all people exercising their human right to seek safety at the southern border.”

Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us, said, “The decision to extend and redesignate TPS for Cameroon is great news as in-country conditions have only worsened since the original designation last year. Today, we thank the Biden administration as the approximately 21,000 Cameroonians residing in the U.S. are able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they are able to continue living in safety and contributing to their communities. Deporting these individuals to a deadly armed conflict with extraordinary levels of violence would be both immoral and shortsighted. We hope the Administration continues to use the incredibly powerful TPS authority to offer temporary protections to other people facing disastrous circumstances in their home countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mauritania.”

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA, said, “TPS designations are one of the administration’s strongest tools to protect immigrants fleeing political crises and natural disasters. CASA celebrates today’s announcements with our thousands of members from Cameroon and joins with them in urging the administration to expand the use of TPS to protect people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central America, Mauritania, and other deserving countries.”

Terrance Chie, Community Member, said, “I am grateful for the administration providing protection for myself and other Cameroonians. The TPS redesignation and extension is a mental and psychological booster for Cameroonians currently in the US. TPS provides security and safety and allows me to work and give back to the community. I also ask that this administration halts all deportations back to Cameroon. Returning people to danger should never be part of our immigration system.”

By offering TPS to Cameroon, the Administration is affording impacted community members an opportunity to rebuild their lives, access education, secure employment, and contribute positively to their communities, all while being shielded from the threat of deportation to unsafe conditions.