March 23, 2022

Warren, Baldwin, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Designate Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status

4.4 Million Cameroonians Are in Need of Humanitarian Assistance, Including 2.6 Million Experiencing Food Insecurity

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) joined with aa group of colleagues in a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Cameroon, which would provide lifesaving protection to Cameroonians currently in the United States. Cameroon is experiencing multiple, worsening humanitarian crises – 4.4 million Cameroonians are in need of humanitarian assistance, 2.6 million Cameroonians are experiencing acute food insecurity, and over 1 million people are internally displaced. The senators argue that it is unsafe to send any of the 40,000 Cameroonians in the United States back to Cameroon, and are urging the Biden administration to designate Cameroon for TPS  for a period of 18 months. 

The letter was also signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

“The insecurity in nine of ten of the country’s regions and nationwide government repression of political dissent and use of torture and incommunicado detention make safe return for Cameroonian nationals in the United States impossible… American principles and international law compel the United States to protect the safety of Cameroonian nationals present in this county by ensuring that they are not forced to return to Cameroon. Only a limited number of individuals will be eligible for TPS: an estimated 40,000 Cameroonians, over 7,000 of whom are children, are currently in the United States,” the senators wrote.

TPS is a form of statutory relief made available to nationals of a designated country living in the United States when returning to their home country would be unsafe due to ongoing armed conflict, the effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. TPS provides life-saving protection from deportation and permission to work in the U.S. for the duration of the designation

In its most recent human rights report on Cameroon, the State Department cataloged a troubling series of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, violence against women and children, and targeted attacks against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Human Rights Watch released a report describing the unspeakable horrors that await Cameroonians returning from the United States. Returnees and their families have been raped, tortured, beaten, arbitrarily arrested, extorted, and threatened by law enforcement, military personnel, and other agents of the state, as well as by armed separatists. They have also been detained in inhumane, unsanitary, and degrading conditions. Many were targeted because of their deportation to Cameroon from the United States and presumed opposition to the Cameroonian government.

The letter is supported by the Cameroon Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Senator Warren has led ongoing efforts to protect the rights and well-being of TPS recipients, migrants, and asylum seekers:

  • In March 2022, Senators Warren, joined Senators Durbin, Menendez, and Rob Portman (R-Ohio)  and 35 of their Senate colleagues in a letter urging President Biden to extend TPS to Ukranians in the U.S. following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 
  • In November 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Van Hollen and Senate colleagues in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Biden supporting TPS designation for Cameroon In May 2021, Senator Warren supported the Biden administration’s announcement redesignating Haiti  for TPS for 18 months. 
  • In February 2021, Senator Warren led a letter to DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding allegations of abuse at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities and threats of deportation, especially towards Cameroonian detainees. 
  • In February 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Van Hollen and her Senate colleagues in a letter to DHS and President Biden supporting TPS designation for Cameroon. 
  • In March 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Hirono’s amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, regarding TPS holders being denied green cards.
  • In September 2020, Senator Warren called out the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to end TPS for over 300,000 immigrants.