Many Cameroonians in the United States got up to exciting news this Good Friday. The Biden administration has designated Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This status allows the Department of Homeland Security to protect nationals of designated countries living in the U.S. from potential deportation if they are eligible, allows them to apply for work permits, and gives them the freedom to travel.
The New York Times estimates that approximately 40,000 Cameroonians are expected to be eligible for the TPS. It states that Cameroonian nationals must have already been present in the U.S. as of Thursday, the day before the new status goes into force, and those who enter after that time will not be eligible.
The United States Department of Homeland Security notes that it is granting the designation to Cameroonians for the first time because of the “humanitarian crisis” caused by a conflict between the country’s government forces and armed separatists. The department also cited a “significant rise” in attacks from the terrorist group Boko Haram.
In a statement, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkassaid, “The United States recognizes the ongoing armed conflict in Cameroon, and we will provide temporary protection to those in need. Cameroonian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”
Cameroon is designated for an initial 18 months, but such designations are frequently extended. For those who qualify, the TPS grants the right to remain in the United States without fear of being detained or removed, the ability to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) and to receive travel authorization.
The TPS designation grants a lifeline to thousands of Cameroonians who have been living in limbo after fleeing the violent conflict that has been raging in the English-speaking parts of the country for over five years now.
This is a developing story and Timescape Magazine will be running a series to bring further clarity on what this entails to the thousands of Cameroonians concerned.