© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S., April 14, 2022.Reuters/Leah Millis
Christina Cook and Mica Rosenberg
(Reuters) – Biden’s administration will provide temporary deportation aid and work permits to Cameroonians living in the United States amid ongoing clashes between the country’s government forces and armed separatists, Biden said on Friday. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ).
The Department of Homeland Security said the decision will apply to Cameroonians living in the United States through April 14 and will last for 18 months. According to the department, an estimated 12,000 Cameroonians will be eligible for this status.
President Joe Biden has defended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which provides immigrants who cannot safely return to their home countries due to exceptional circumstances, such as violent conflict or natural disasters, the opportunity to stay and work in the United States.
In a statement announcing the move, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited the conflict and an increase in attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram in Cameroon.
Violence against the armed forces in western Cameroon has escalated over the past year, with English-speaking separatists fighting the French-speaking government increasing the use of explosive devices.
In late 2020 and early 2021, Reuters spoke with six Cameroonian asylum seekers who were deported back to their home countries after losing a case in a U.S. immigration court. Although all declined to be named, they told similar stories of their IDs being confiscated by the government upon their return to Cameroon, and some of them going into hiding for fear of reprisals from local authorities.
A February report by Human Rights Watch documented dozens of cases between 2019 and 2021 of arbitrary arrests and torture of asylum seekers deported from the United States by Cameroonian authorities.
Democrat Joe Biden has dramatically expanded TPS enrollment, while his predecessor, then-Republican President Donald Trump, largely sought to reduce it.