The Biden administration has finally announced a temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Cameroon. Groups like the Cameroon Advocacy Network and the Haitian Bridge Alliance have been calling for the designation to provide relief from deportation.
Black-led immigration groups, notably Cameroon Advocacy Network and the Haitian Bridge Alliance, have been at the forefront of pressing for TPS designation for Cameroonians. Black immigrants are disproportionately impacted by the violence of the deportation and detention system.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, TPS can be designated during a period of ongoing armed conflict such as a civil war, an epidemic or environmental disaster or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.” Those covered under a TPS designation are not “removable” from the U.S., meaning they cannot generally be deported or detained by the Department of Homeland Security.
The move comes more than a month after officials granted TPS status to Ukrainians, prompting some advocates to question the lack of empathy toward Cameroonians and other Black migrants seeking asylum. UndocuBlack laid out various next steps to ensure that those eligible for TPS can benefit from the status in a Twitter thread.
“Black immigrants are often marginalized in the immigration movement, and this has led to a disparity in how we access and receive information,” tweeted UndocuBlack. “A plan is important to ensure that all eligible Cameroonians access the information and legal resources needed for this protection.”
The group is requesting what it describes as “strategic implementation,” including an immediate publication of a Federal Register Notice, “a robust [and] culturally competent outreach plan from DHS,” publish updated registration data and address processing issues in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In a prior op-ed for NewsOne, UndocuBlack’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy, Haddy Gassama, highlighted the disparity between those fleeing Ukraine and Black migrants. Gassama said this was another reminder “that immigration is a Black issue, and it is global. Anti-Blackness is universal and endemic to every form of Immigration enforcement.”
UndocuBlack also renewed its call for TPS to be granted for those in countries like Mauritania and Ethiopia.
An explainer video from the Cameroon Advocacy Network explained the necessity of the designation to protect the safety and wellbeing of Cameroonians in the U.S.
“Horrifying human rights violations like kidnapping, rape, torture, extrajudicial killings and the burning of schools, infrastructure, or even entire villages have become commonplace and ongoing armed conflict perpetrated by Boko Haram in the far north has killed 3,000 Cameroonian nationals,” said the video’s narrator. “It’s reported that after deportation to Cameroon, Cameroonians are flagged by government forces as separatists, and their identification documents are confiscated, restricting their freedom of movement and putting them in even more danger.”
The news comes in the middle of a showdown over the administration’s decision to end the use of Title 42 to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the border. Advocates have argued that the Biden administration’s continuation of Title 42 deportation flights put individuals in danger and continued a racist policy implemented under the Trump administration.
Fwd.us called for the Biden administration to continue supporting the efforts to “safeguard” Black immigrants and asylum seekers.
“This should include granting a designation of TPS for Mauritania and Ethiopia, halting deportations to Haiti, and immediately ending its use of harsh deterrence measures such as Title 42 to create a functional border management system that processes asylum claims in a fair, orderly, and humane manner,” said Alida Garza, vice president of advocacy for FWD.us.