The Biden administration announced on Friday that it would offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from Cameroon to the United States, protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work legally due to the ongoing armed conflict in the country. African.
Once open for applications, the TPS program will allow Cameroonians who have lived in the United States as of April 14 to obtain work permits and protections against deportation for 18 months if they meet the eligibility requirements and pass background checks.
A 1990 law authorizes the US government to create TPS programs for immigrants who are undocumented or have temporary status if the United States determines that their country of origin cannot safely accept the return of its citizens due to war, natural disasters or other “extraordinary” conditions.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the TPS designation for Cameroon was justified due to the years-old conflict between the Cameroonian government and armed separatist groups in the country’s English-speaking regions to the west. The fighting killed 4,000 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.
The DHS also cited an increase in attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group in Africa. The conditions, said DHS, have fostered “extreme violence”, decimated Cameroon’s infrastructure, fueled economic unrest and food insecurity, and displaced hundreds of thousands of Cameroonians.
“Cameroonian nationals currently residing in the United States who cannot return safely due to extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and an increase in attacks by Boko Haram, will be able to stay and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
Cameroonians who arrive in the United States after Friday’s announcement, whether legally or illegally, will not be eligible for TPS. Although it allows recipients to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation, TPS does not make them eligible for permanent residency or citizenship.
The Biden administration has increasingly used the authority of TPS to protect subsets of immigrant groups in the United States from deportation, expanding or creating designations for nearly a dozen beleaguered countries. to war, ethnic violence, political instability and other crises.
Designations by the Biden administration made approximately 600,000 immigrants to the United States eligible for TPS, including citizens of Venezuela, Myanmar, Haiti, Afghanistan andaccording to government estimates.
These measures stand in stark contrast to the policies of the Trump administration, which sought to end TPS programs for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan in as part of its crackdown on humanitarian immigration protections. These efforts have been blocked by Federal Court decisions.
Trump administration officials and immigration restriction scholars have argued that the authority of the TPS has been abused, protecting immigrants from deportation longer than necessary.
Friday’s announcement is a victory for advocacy groups who have been calling on the Biden administration to grant TPS to Cameroonians since last year.
Progressive advocates and some Democrats had expressed frustration over the length of time it was taking to offer protections to citizens of a predominantly black African country, over the announced TPS designation for Ukraine.after the .