The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday announced it had designated Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in response to more than a year of advocacy by immigration groups.
DHS designated Cameroon for TPS for 18 months to stop deportations of certain Cameroonians to the country, which has been experiencing violence and political instability as the result of armed conflict between the government, armed separatists, and terrorist organizations, as well as violence perpetrated by these groups. To be eligible to apply, a Cameroonian person must have lived in the United States continuously since April 14, 2022. Advocates estimate that around 40,000 people could be protected by the designation.
TPS is a form of humanitarian relief that can be granted to individuals of certain countries that have been designated (selected) by DHS due to the existence of at least one of three specific reasons found in law: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. The Secretary of DHS, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, pointed to “the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram” when announcing Cameroon’s designation, fulfilling both the armed conflict and the extraordinary and temporary conditions criteria.
To be eligible for TPS, Cameroonian applicants must have entered the country and lived here continuously since April 14, as well as pay a fee and pass background checks.
This designation of Cameroon for TPS is the first in history, and will allow qualifying nationals of Cameroon already present in the U.S. on April 14, 2022 to apply for work authorization and remain temporarily in the country without fear of deportation. However, TPS does not provide a long-term status: the designation must be continually renewed by DHS, and TPS holders must “re-register” (renew) their temporary protected status and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) each time the designation comes up for renewal (usually in 6, 12 or 18-month intervals). TPS also does not provide a pathway to permanent residency or to citizenship.
The designation of Cameroon for TPS also follows a recent spate of designations and re-designations by the Biden administration. DHS designated Sudan and extended and re-designated South Sudan for 18 months in early March, designated Ukraine for TPS the following day, and designated Afghanistan two weeks later. Advocates and some lawmakers have additionally pushed for designation of Ethiopia, as well as Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
The designation will go into effect when it is published in the Federal Register, which is expected in the coming days.