The Biden administration’s swift declaration of temporary protected status (TPS) for Ukrainian refugees spotlight the anti-Blackness within the American immigration system. Before his election, President Biden promised to undo harms caused by his predecessor, yet immigration groups point to his continuation of the same policies he said he would undo.
Speaking with NewsOne, UndocuBlack’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy Haddy Gassama says that comparatively, Black people have a higher threshold to prove their worth when seeking asylum or refuge.
“The pattern that we’ve recognized is that for Black countries, and for Black people in general, there’s always higher evidentiary standards,” Gassama explained. “There’s this presumption of fraud or that we cannot in good faith be seeking asylum or seeking refuge.”
In the past year, the Biden administration deported or expelled at least 20,000 Haitian migrants. UndocuBlack and other Black-led immigration organizations also point to the dire condition for Cameroonian nationals as needing protection afforded under TPS. She cited a Human Rights Watch report documenting abuses of Cameroonians after they are deported back to their home country.
“Cameroon should be a shoo-in case for TPS,” she said. “The same way that Ukraine should be a shoo-in case for TPS. The same way that Haiti was, the same way that several other countries have been. But we see this pattern of having to spend months of organizing, in the case of Cameroon years of organizing, and building up the argument to the White House to the Department of Homeland Security to the State Department that this country is just absolutely not safe to deport people back to.”
Another report from the Center for American Progress called for the immediate grant of Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians given ongoing crises in the Central African country.
“Deteriorating conditions in Cameroon along with ongoing humanitarian crises exacerbated by the pandemic make return dangerous and warrant immediate humanitarian protection for Cameroonians residing in the United States,” read the report. “Reports indicate that current U.S. asylum policies have failed to provide Cameroonians with due process when seeking asylum.”
Gassama stressed that immigration groups like UndocuBlack are not upset at the global community for showing support for Ukrainian nationals but that the swift action for those fleeing imminent harm should be universal.
“This is the gold standard of how everyone should be treated,” Gassama said. “So, we’re putting into question why Black migrants, in particular, are not allotted the same level of empathy and humanity.”