The Biden administration on Friday announced it was offering temporary protected status (TPS) to more than 10,000 immigrants from Cameroon to the U.S., protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work legally due to the ongoing armed conflict in the African country.

Once the program is open for applications, the TPS program will allow Cameroonians living in the U.S. as of April 14 to obtain work permits and protection from deportation for 18 months if they meet the requirements of the law and are vetted.

1990 Act allows the U.S. government to create TPS programs for undocumented or temporary immigrants if the U.S. determines that their home country cannot safely accept the return of its citizens due to war, natural disasters, or other “emergencies”.

The Ministry of Homeland Security (DHS) said Cameroon’s appointment of TPS was justified because of years of conflict between the Cameroonian government and armed separatist groups in the English-speaking regions of the country in the west. According to reports, 4,000 civilians were killed in the fighting Human Rights Watch.

DHS also cites a rise in attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group in Africa. The conditions, according to DHS, have contributed to “extreme violence”, depleted Cameroon’s infrastructure, caused economic turmoil and food security, and relocated hundreds of thousands of Cameroonians.

Cameroonian citizens currently living in the United States who cannot return safely due to extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists and the rise of Boko Haram attacks will be able to stay and work in the United States until then. until conditions are created for their home country to improve, ”DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkos said.

DHS estimates that approximately 11,700 immigrants from Cameroon will qualify for the TPS. Cameroonians arriving in the U.S. after Friday’s announcement, legally or illegally, will not be eligible for TPS.

Although this allows beneficiaries to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation, TPS does not entitle them to permanent residence or citizenship.

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon
Housed in a former school building, a local NGO registers local displaced residents for humanitarian aid arriving from new camps set up in Bush on May 11, 2019 in Buea, Cameroon.

Giles Clark / UNOCHA via Getty Images

The Biden administration is increasingly using TPS powers to protect a subset of U.S. immigrant groups from deportation by expanding or creating labels for nearly a dozen countries affected by war, ethnic violence, political instability and other crises.

The Biden administration has designated approximately 600,000 U.S. immigrants eligible for TPS, including citizens of Venezuela, Myanmar, Haiti, Afghanistan and Ukraineshow government estimates.

These steps contrast sharply with the policies of the Trump administration, which sought to stop TPS programs hundreds of thousands immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan as part of the crackdown on humanitarian immigration protection. These efforts were blocked by federal court rulings.

Representatives of the Trump administration and immigration restricters claim that the TPS’s powers have been abused, which protects immigrants from deportation for longer than necessary.

Friday’s announcement is a victory for propaganda groups that have called on the Biden administration to give TPS to Cameroonians since last year.

Progressive defenders and some Democrats have expressed disappointment over the time it takes to offer protection to citizens of a predominantly black African country, compared to the TPS title for Ukraine that was announced week after Russian invasion.

Gerlin Joseph, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a group that helps black migrants, welcomed the appointment of TPS for Cameroon, calling it “overdue”. But she said immigration assistance for black immigrants has been unfairly denied or delayed, noting that her group and others are lobbying for TPS to be offered to Cameroonians.

“It was a long battle,” Joseph said. “When it comes to TPS for Cameroon and Haiti, it wasn’t just a gift. It was something we literally had to fight for, for a very long time.”

California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, chair of the Democratic Subcommittee on Immigration of the House of Representatives, and Congressman Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, called Friday’s announcement a “humane decision.” Last fall, two lawmakers who condemned deportations to Cameroon introduced a bill that would provide TPS to Cameroonians.

“Unfortunately, instead of legally securing asylum in the United States, the Trump administration has excluded Cameroonians from our refugee program and treated asylum seekers inhumanely,” Lofgren and Johnson said. “It will always be a stain on our nation, but we are glad that the Biden administration is taking the right steps to help fix this wrong.”

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