FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cameroon Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, CASA, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Amnesty International USA Responds to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation for Cameroon
San Diego, CA, April 15 2022 – The Cameroon Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, CASA, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Amnesty International USA are pleased at the Biden-Harris administrations’ decision to designate Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Due to longstanding socio-political tensions and armed conflicts in Cameroon, which has left thousands dead, 4.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and over 1 million people internally displaced, it is impossible for those currently in the United States to make a safe return to Cameroon.
Today, the 40,000 estimated Cameroonians in the United States know that their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness truly exist. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to ensure Cameroonians are protected. We urge the Administration to issue the Federal Register Notice as soon as possible and to develop resources that recognize language access needs of the Cameroonian community. Further, as we celebrate this win, we cannot forget the thousands of migrants currently at the U.S.-Mexico border being turned away due to ongoing Title 42 expulsions and the Migrant Protection Protocols. Today’s news is bittersweet as we acknowledge the high risk of violence facing Cameroonians who were unjustly deported. We continue to call upon the Biden-Harris administration to provide protection for all people in search of safety and ensure the elimination of all forms of oppression and marginalization, especially of Black migrants.
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 after several years of our advocacy, and since, many asylum seekers’ lives have been lost due to unjust deportations. The request for temporary protected status (TPS) designation 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.”
Guerline Jozef, Co-founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance and founding member of Cameroon Advocacy Network, said “We welcome this much needed and overdue announcement from the Biden administration. We rejoice and celebrate with our Cameroonian siblings who after a long-fought battle can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We stand undeterred, in solidarity as we continue to work with and follow the leadership of impacted people of the Cameroonian Community. We are grateful for all our partner organizations and allies who pushed hard to get this victory, this is another example of ‘Anpil men, chay pa lou.’ We acknowledge that there is much work to be done to welcome all people in need of protection with dignity and center the voices and narratives of Black migrants and immigrants.”
Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and founding member of the Cameroon Advocacy Network, said, “This represents a momentous step to ensuring tens of thousands of Black immigrants in the United States will get the critical protection they deserve — protection from forced removal, from unimaginable violence, and from further persecution. The Biden administration deserves credit for heeding the calls of the Cameroonian community and all their allies. Anti-Black racism has plagued our immigration system for far too long. Ultimately it is up to all of us, no matter our country of origin or the color of our skin, to join together to hold our government accountable to its human rights obligations in our long march toward justice.”
T.O. (a pseudonym), a directly impacted individual said, “I was tortured and detained twice in my country Cameroon because I spoke against the government. I was raped by the Cameroon military force at least twice a week during my two months in their custody. The military shot and killed my father at my second arrest. I was detained in an ICE jail for over one year, where I was abused and treated badly by ICE. Death or life imprisonment awaits me if I am deported back to Cameroon because the Cameroonian military is still looking for me. This designation of temporary protected status will literally save my life and relinquishes my daily fear of being deported every time I see a police officer.”
A.R. (a pseudonym), a directly impacted individual said, “This designation takes away the fear I have by providing me with the right to stay in the United States. It will give me the opportunity to apply for work authorization so that I can sufficiently support myself, and my family, and equally contribute to the growth of this great nation. Simply knowing that I’m free from being arrested, detained, or deported releases me from the traumatic stress and psychological trauma I experience daily.”
Austen, a Cameroonian immigrant, and CASA community organizer said, “For so long in this country there has been a disparity concerning black immigrants. Many among them were not as lucky as I was in escaping the violence back home. TPS for Cameroon is an opportunity to protect others like me that went through similar or worse situations. We may have won TPS for Cameroon today, but the world needs to remember that our families are still back home. Remember we have Cameroonians and others who were deported into very zones without fair trials in their deportation proceedings. This TPS would have safe lives if it would have been given earlier, though it is better late than never. The fight to protect black immigrants is just beginning.”
Emmanuel Tabili, founding member of CAN said, ‘This decision today is a testament of what we believe the United States of America stands for.’ It is often said that America was built on great values of freedom, liberty, humanity, and democracy. This narrative offers hope for those persecuted to find solace, protection, and peace. I congratulate my fellow Cameroonian members for their advocacy and courage in this effort to win protection for the community, but I also urge all to remember that it is not yet a time to rest. While we look back at all we have accomplished, we need to continue fighting for immigrants, who make a very valuable part of this great society. This designation for Cameroon is a step towards the protection and preservation of immigrant values and we must keep fighting until every immigrant is treated with dignity.”
L.D (a pseudonym), a directly impacted individual, said “I am from the Southern part of Cameroon where we are being treated like second-class citizens. I was arrested twice for protesting the government, and during the second arrest, I was raped twice by military officials. My family found a way to help me escape, and upon reaching the U.S.-Mexico border to petition for asylum, I was detained for 1 year and seven months. This designation means that I do not have to leave in fear of a government that is seeking to kill me. It means that I can live, breathe, work, play, and do all that all other human beings should be able to do without a constant fear of deportation looming over me. For that, I am grateful.”
Kale Dante, founding member of CAN, said “TPS for Cameroon is a big step in the U.S. efforts to stand by their values, especially as it relates to humanitarian relief. As unfortunate as it is, the reality is that Cameroonians are not able to safely return home. Today is a win not just for Cameroonians, but for all those in fear of deportation, as it demonstrates that we can be successful when we are persistent and when we organize. We shall continue to seek protection and freedom for our siblings everywhere as we remain grateful for each incremental step that we take.”
Fabrisk, a directly impacted individual said, “TPS for Cameroon is a sign of solidarity and willingness to pass the test of humanity. With TPS I feel respected and fairly treated. This will give me the opportunity to live in this country as a human. However, I believe that success is not just the act of completing a task but the ability to complete all other tasks associated with it. More needs to be done as far as immigration is concerned. It is so painful to imagine the agony that this country has inflicted on immigrants. There are immigrants in detention and across the borders, many deported to unsafe countries that should be paroled. We expect more from this administration.”