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Immigrant advocates say Temporary Protected Status for Cameroon is long overdue

A man holds a yellow sign that reads "Free Black Migrants #FreeCameroonians."
Stella M. Chávez
A protester stands outside Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas on Oct. 12, 2020. He and other immigrant advocates were demanding ICE release a group of Black migrants, who allege they were forced to sign voluntary deportation papers. The men also allege they were physically abused and threatened at Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi where they were previously held.

North Texas immigrant advocates are welcoming the Department of Homeland Security’s decision that grants Temporary Protected Status to Cameroon, but say it should have happened sooner. The designation for the Central African country allows Cameroonian nationals to remain and work in the U.S. for 18 months.

The decision late last week comes after the Biden Administration was blasted for what critics say is preferential treatment for Ukrainian nationals over non-European refugees.

"I can't overstate the urgency and necessity of this protection," said Kristina Morales, DOJ Accredited Representative for the Asylum Program at Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. "At the same time, the multi-year fight for this designation — the same with which was approved for Ukraine in mere days — is a stinging and painful example of the ways Black lives continue to be deprioritized and ignored."

A number of immigrant advocacy groups had been calling on the federal government to prioritize Cameroon because of the ongoing armed conflict and humanitarian crisis there.

"Despite urgent calls for protection, our government spent the last several years deporting Cameroonians directly into harm," Morales said. "This designation does not and cannot erase the violence our country has perpetrated against them.

DHS said this is the first time the U.S. has given Cameroon TPS status. DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas cited the conflict in the country in a statement.

To qualify for TPS, individuals must have been living in the U.S. since April 14.

Daniel Tse, founding member of the Cameroon Advocacy Network, said in a statement that the decision “secures protection for thousands of Cameroonians in the United States living in fear and uncertainty.”

Tse also noted the decision came after years of pushing for the temporary protected designation and after numerous Cameroonian asylum seekers have been deported.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.