WASHINGTON, DC – Outside the White House, almost 100 immigrant activists urged the Biden administration to offer Cameroonians protection from deportation through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) with a die-in and petition presentation. Held on the National Black Immigrant Day of Action during Black History Month, the groups pointed to the need for the Biden-Harris administration to dismantle anti-Blackness within the immigration system, pointing to the administration’s unwillingness to offer protection for this group of approximately 40,000 black immigrants.
Together the Cameroon Advocacy Network, CASA, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Amnesty International, and RFK Human Rights delivered a petition with more than 10,000 signatures from everyday people calling for the immediate TPS designation for Cameroon. This petition demonstrates the power of the grassroots community and the groundswell support for protecting Cameroonians in the U.S. from deportation.
“I was a nurse in Cameroon. I took an oath to save lives. On November 2016 along with other nurses and advocates for human life we were arrested and we were taken to the police station where we were tortured and beaten within an inch of our lives.”
“I ended up with injuries on my stomach, knees, and legs. I was in custody for a week after all sorts of inhumane treatment including physical assault. I was refused visitation from family members. Thanks to the intervention of my family lawyer and a human rights group and after bribing the commissioner, I was released. I escaped my country and took the long and grueling journey to the US. President Biden, I am pouring my heart out to you. What I suffered still haunts me to this very day! Cameroonians that are deported end up missing! Please don’t allow us to get deported to our deaths. We need protection, not deportation. I urge President Biden to protect black immigrants and grant Cameroonians Temporary Protected Status,” said Denis, a CASA member and Cameroonian in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
This rally comes on the heels of last week’s Human Rights Watch report launch documenting how Cameroonians deported from the US were tortured, physically or sexually abused, or assaulted by state agents, and were detained in jails, prisons, military camps, or other detention facilities, both legal and illegal, for periods ranging from days to months.
“The most un-American thing to do is to turn away and reject people who come to its gates in search of safety, freedom, and liberty because these principles and more are what makes America great. The United States government is quiet in the face of injustice and the biased practices of the immigration system. History will one day judge us for remaining silent and taking no action towards protecting and providing a home to Cameroonians and those who suffer persecution. This country exists because brave immigrants in quest for safety and freedom came here and found a home in it. I believe TPS for Cameroon is long overdue and the more the administration remains silent and takes no actions to accomplish this, the more that valuable lives and dreams are lost,” said Emmanuel, a directly impacted individual and founding member of Cameroon Advocacy Network.
Cameroon is facing at least three separate armed conflicts or humanitarian crises affecting nearly all of the country’s ten regions. With a backlog of over 1 million cases overall in the immigration courts, and 9 million at USCIS, the activists seek DHS to designate Cameroon for TPS so that the courts and USCIS could shift focus to the highest priority cases.
“Living in a community full of peace, love and hospitality has always been my dream. I grew up living in that dream – up until the day that a violent and escalating crisis broke out in my country and my home became a nightmare. Making the journey to the United States was my last hope, but it is rather unfortunate that after all the struggles I have been through, I have been mistreated here and threatened with deportation despite the fact that my home is a no-go area. With all that is happening in Cameroon, it is not a question of whether TPS is necessary, it should have been designated long ago. The crisis in Cameroon is not getting any better as people are killed daily. I don’t even have a home, much less security, as massacres are still being carried out by military forces. Those that were deported have been tortured and mistreated in prison. TPS is the only hope we have left. If the United States won’t put sanctions in place to end the crisis in my country, save lives at least! I am trembling in fear and depression because at any moment I know that I can be deported and handed over to the Cameroonian government’s killing machines. TPS is my last hope at this point,” said Mexy, a directly impacted individual and member of Cameroon Advocacy Network.
Organizations leading the National Black Immigrant Day of Action are African Communities Together, Family Action Network Movement, UndocuBlack Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in the USA, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Cameroon Advocacy Network, Cameroon American Council, RFK Human Rights, Temporary Protected Status – Deferred Enforced Departure Administrative Advocacy Coalition, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Welcome With Dignity Campaign, Ohio Immigrant Alliance, immigrant rights org CASA, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) Action Network, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Disciples of Christ Refugee and Immigration Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Allen Orr, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) closed, “Today is Black Immigrant Advocacy Day. I am proud to stand with our coalition partners to provide a platform for those seeking protection and safety in the United States. Rather than deporting the most vulnerable back to danger, America must protect them. AILA advocates for the dismantling of structural racism and anti-blackness that keep everyone from living in safety. As AILA’s first Black President, I am committed to the crucial understanding that immigration is a Black issue.”