Our Voices

Redesignation of TPS protects thousands of Cameroonians from deportation

10,000 Cameroonians in the U.S. are now eligible for protection from deportation thanks, in part to the hard work and leadership of Daniel Tse, joint legal fellow of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Haitian Bridge Alliance.

In October, the U.S. redesignated and extended Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians in light of ongoing armed conflict with non-state groups resulting in killings, kidnappings, mass displacement, destruction of civilian infrastructure, food insecurity, and spread of disease.

Citing risks linked to kidnapping, gun violence, and carjacking, among others, the U.S. Department of State issued “Do Not Travel” warnings for six regions in Cameroon: the North, Far North, North-West, South-West, and parts of Adamawa and East. The country’s government has also consistently violated the basic human rights of Cameroonians. These instances of state-sanctioned violence are inflicted by Cameroon security forces, who suppress the right to free speech and arbitrarily detain critics of the government. Security forces also inflict sexual violence, torture, and extrajudicial killings on political opponents and dissenters, and have been burning communities suspected of harboring any sentiments of dissent towards the government.

Much of the human rights violations in the country’s Far North region can be credited to Boko Haram, a group the U.S. Department of State recognizes as a terrorist organization that originated in Nigeria and spread to neighboring countries such as Cameroon. A recent Human Rights Watch report also asserts that there are almost daily killings that can be attributed to the regime, which has contributed to the internal displacement of over 400,000 Cameroonians.

Tse, also a founding member of the Cameroon Advocacy Network, spent months educating U.S. officials on conditions on the ground in Cameroon and on the urgent need for protection from forced return to a humanitarian crisis. He described that the decision as one that “came with immense advocacy, from humanitarian leaders and members of Congress,” describing “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,” he said.

Sarah Decker, Staff Attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, thanked the Biden administration for redesignating and extending critical protection for Cameroonian immigrants in the United States. “TPS will ensure that Cameroonians are protected from deportation back to a country that continues to experience multiple humanitarian crises,” she said, urging the administration “to continue safeguarding Cameroonians and other Black immigrants in the US by halting unconscionable deportations back to countries experiencing extreme violence and ending its use of harsh deterrence measures, including immigration detention and abusive border policies.”