August 20, 2021, (Washington, D.C., New York) -- The Cameroon American Council, #CameroonTPS Coalition, and the Center for Constitutional Rights sent a letter yesterday to members of Congress urging them to support a designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Cameroon and to all Cameroonians currently residing in the United States. The letter was specifically directed to Congresswomen urging them to take solidarity action with Cameroonian women detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers by hosting a briefing or introducing a bill for TPS during the month-long commemoration of Black August. The action would affirm a recent letter by House Judiciary Committee Democrats and offer crucial relief to civilians fleeing conflict in Cameroon as well as those Cameroonians subject to harsh conditions of confinement in U.S. detention centers.
The letter outlines the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis unfolding in Cameroon due to political turmoil following the 2018 presidential election and 2020 local elections, as well as ongoing violence stemming from the 2016 Anglophone Crisis, the invasion of Boko Haram and Seleka/Anti-Balaka militias, as well as government repression of political opposition and gender and sexual minorities. Approximately 40,000 Cameroonians are currently seeking refuge in the United States. The partners note how, as a result of their intersecting identities, Cameroonian women have been disparately impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon and have also faced harrowing repression and violence in U.S. immigration detention.
“On this #FreedomFriday during Black August, people of vastly different views have come to a consensus around one thing — TPS for Cameroon”, said Sylvie Ngassa Qwasinwi Bello, director of the Cameroon American Council, who has been organizing and advocating for #CameroonTPS since 2016.
Coalition member, journalist, and Ambazonia Governing Council (AgovC) Member Martin N. Ayaba, Sr. explained, "Because of this historic injustice to the people of Southern Cameroon, some U.S. lawmakers, due to pressure from their local constituents, are calling for the Biden-Harris administration to provide a TPS to all Southern Cameroonians currently in the USA."
Micheline Ewang, regional human rights director at CRM-USA, shared that on the other side, "Maurice Kamto, president of the leading opposition party in Cameroon, CRM, has urged members to push for #CameroonTPS. Many CRM members are in detention centers and they need immigration relief."
And Center for Constitutional Rights Advocacy Program Manager Tabitha Mustafa voiced, “Cameroonians have been organizing tirelessly for TPS for over five years, across three administrations. The unwillingness of any government to extend relief to migrants fleeing Cameroon is a stark example of the anti-Blackness and anti-Africanness of the U.S. immigration regime.”
Cameroonian women have been leading powerful resistance efforts against abhorrent treatment in immigration detention, including a mass action last summer at Don Hutto facility in Texas. In the letter to Congresswomen, the partners emphasized “During Black August -- the annual month-long commemoration of Black political prisoners and their efforts to improve prison conditions -- it is imperative that we remember the unique plight of Cameroonian women.”
The TPS designation and extension provides the only viable option for Cameroonians, and particularly Cameroonian women, to safely reside in the U.S.
Please find the full letter here.
Founded in 2010, the Cameroon American Council's mission is to, "Build Capacity, Relevance, Visibility in Cameroonian/African/Black communities at home and abroad." In 2011, the Washington Post called our multi-pronged approach to problem-solving in policy and community outreach "The First Program of its Kind." For over a decade, CAC has been at the forefront speaking truth to power within immigration justice and fighting Anti-Africanness/Anti-Blackness across sectors. Find us at: @CamAmerCouncil.
Since 2016, the #CameroonTPS Coalition has engaged Cameroonian leaders and community members of diverse and divergent views to build consensus around the urgency of #CameroonTPS. The coalition is convened by the Cameroon American Council.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.