The lawmakers were responding to a February 17, 2021 letter from over 40 Democratic members of the US Congress to President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking them to “grant temporary protected status to Cameroonians living in the U.S. by placing an 18-month break in proceedings on their deportations”.
Temporary protected status is given to people already in the United States from countries devastated by conflict or natural disasters.
The US members of Congress asked the Biden administration to either grant temporary protected status or what is known as deferred enforcement departure, a power given to the president that would allow Cameroonians to be protected from deportation without having to register for a special program.
They claim that these Cameroonians are in danger if deported.
Members of Cameroon’s National Assembly said, “The Cameroon they describe and allude to in their correspondence does not exist and we believe it is a figment of the misinformed views of certain individuals who are determined to cause further destabilization in the whole Central African Region.”
“As legislators, we welcome genuine expression of concern and support for the well-being of the vast majority of Cameroonians. We urge the United States Congressmen to be more vigorously engaged in ensuring the respect of international conventions against transnational crime and criminality to which the United States is a signatory and to ensure that their country is not a refuge for criminal perpetrators and financiers of acts of extreme violence and terrorism on the people of Cameroon,” the MPs furthered.
The Members of the National Assembly of Cameroon say they are “appalled by the falsehood, distorted opinion, and the extremely negative characterization” of Cameroon by the members of the US Congress.
“As legislators in Cameroon, we seek not to interfere in the decision-making processes of the Immigration Enforcement System of the United States government in dealing with its challenges, but we reject the views perpetrated by these Congressmen on the prevailing situation in Cameroon,” they said. “We consider these remarks on Cameroon as most unfriendly, derogatory, and smacks of an attempt to tarnish our image, respectability in seeking to mislead public opinion, create confusion to justify the securing of TPS and DED status from some groups defending the rights of immigrants in the USA.”
The 63 MPs say immigration is a global phenomenon and no nation can or should stop its citizens from traveling to any part of the world.
“Cameroon readily issues travel documents and passports to its citizens to travel to anywhere in the world and considers the right to travel, to emigrate, a fundamental human right,” their letter reads. “In situations where Cameroonians have entered a foreign country illegally or overstayed their visa, we are bound by our international obligations to corporate with a foreign government, to issue travel documents, and accept the physical return of our citizens.”
The lawmakers boost that the Government of Cameroon “has a longstanding cooperation with the State Department and other United States services including the DHS, ICE, the DOJ, in matters of removal of certain Cameroonians who may have entered the United States without an inspection, overstayed their visas, criminally persecuted, or with fraudulent documents.”
This cooperation between the Government of the United States and the Government of Cameroon has been maintained over the years in the spirit of international cooperation and mutual respect, a portion of the letter said.
Wednesday’s letter reads further: “Cameroon has recognized the nationality of the current list of persons for removal and issued the relevant travel documents to ensure collaboration and to reject the classification as a ‘recalcitrant uncooperative country (ARON)’ by the DHS which has a potentially negative impact on the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas as well as bilateral and other joint foreign policy interests in central Africa.
“We, the Cameroonian legislators are dismayed and regret that in an effort to take into consideration and to succumb to the pressure coming from their respective jurisdictions, American human rights organizations, and other pressure groups, a few misguided congressmen would describe Cameroon in the most horrible, unrealistic and untrue language just to obtain from the US executive branch a stay of execution of a DHS decision to remove certain Cameroonians from the USA, all these at the expense of our country.
“We cannot deny our citizens but if the objective is for their continued residence in the United States, by all means, keep them there but not at the expense of the millions of peace-loving Cameroonians who go about their business, striving for prosperity and economic development.
“It is unfortunate that these congressmen display such deep misunderstanding despite the views of the United States Embassy in Yaoundé and fail to recognize and acknowledge the significant strides made by Cameroon:
“To provide a safe haven to refugees and displaced persons from Northern Nigeria as a result of the fight against militant Islam and Boko Haram,
“To receive and accommodate thousands of people fleeing the conflict in the Central African Republic,
“In continuing its cooperation with many nations including the United States to fight piracy in the Gulf of Guinea,
“To provide an environment for the return to peace and security in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon through a multitude of government actions and programs which have wide international support and participation,
“To check the propagation of the COVID-19 virus and to successfully host an international soccer competition within the COVID-19 environment.
“To acknowledge the positive process of decentralization and devolution of powers from the central government to Regional Assemblies and the right of Cameroonians to participate in the decision-making process in their areas of origin.”