The Biden administration will grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to Cameroonians living in the United States due to the ongoing conflict between government forces and armed separatists in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS on Friday.
The decision will apply to Cameroonians who reside in the United States by April 14 and last a period of 18 months, according to DHS. An estimated 12,000 Cameroonians will be eligible for the status, according to the department.
President Joe Biden has championed the Temporary Protected Status TPS program, which grants immigrants who can't return to their country due to extraordinary circumstances, such as violent conflict or natural disasters, the ability to stay and work in the United States.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited the conflict and a rise in attacks in Cameroon by the Islamist group Boko Haram in a statement announcing the move.
Violence against the armed forces in western Cameroon has intensified over the past year as Anglophone separatists fighting the French-speaking government increase their use of explosive devices.
In late 2020 and early 2021, Reuters spoke to more than a half dozen Cameroonian asylum seekers when they were deported back to their country after losing U.S. immigration court cases. They told similar stories of having their identity documents confiscated by the government after returning to Cameroon, and several were in hiding, fearing retaliation from local authorities.
In February of this year, a report by the Human Rights Watch documented dozens of cases of Cameroonian authorities subjecting asylum seekers deported by the United States to human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrest and torture between 2019 and 2021.
Biden, a Democrat, has greatly increased TPS enrollment, which he and his predecessor, Republican then-President Donald Trump, tried to wind down.