The Biden administration will grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to Cameroonians living in the United States due to the ongoing conflict between government forces and armed separatists in the country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday.
The US Department of Homeland Security has announced Cameroon’s designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. According to Washington, Cameroonians who illegally reside in the United States before April 14, 2022 are eligible for Temporary Protected Status. During this period, these Cameroonian immigrants will be able to apply for a work permit. An estimated 12,000 Cameroonians will be eligible for the status, according to the department.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited the conflict and a rise in attacks in Cameroon by the Islamist group Boko Haram in a statement announcing the move. Violence against the armed forces in the western regions of Cameroon has intensified over the past year as Anglophone separatists fighting the French-speaking government increase their use of explosive devices.
In late 2020 and early 2021, Reuters spoke to more than a half dozen Cameroonian asylum seekers when they had been deported back to their country after losing U.S. immigration court cases. While all declined to be named, they told similar stories of having their identity documents confiscated by the government after returning to Cameroon, and several were in hiding, fearing retaliation from local authorities.
In February, Human Rights Watch report documented dozens of cases of Cameroonian authorities subjecting asylum seekers deported by the United States to human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and torture between 2019 and 2021.