Efforts include backing legislation to grant protective status to people from warn-torn nation
By Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Office of Immigration Issues are joining in calls for support of legislation to grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Cameroonian nationals in the United States.
The Cameroon TPS Act of 2021, introduced this week by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), cites ongoing state-sponsored violence, domestic terrorism and heightened tensions between a variety of groups and communities as reasons the West Central African nation is not safe. Despite those realities, refugees are regularly returned to their country by the United States government.
“We witnessed deportation flight after deportation flight return Cameroonian migrants last year as the country was in the midst of armed civil conflict,” Amanda Craft, manager for Advocacy in the Office of Immigration Issues in the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote in a blog post highlighting the plight of Black migrants in the U.S. “We witnessed flight after flight of Haitian migrants returned to Haiti, a country in the midst of civil unrest. As people of faith, we have a responsibility to stand with our siblings; we have a responsibility to help magnify their stories and their asks; we have a responsibility to ensure our government meets every migrant with dignity and respect.
“The immigration system will not change unless we push for that change.”
This has been a week to draw attention to the disproportionately harsh conditions faced by Black migrants to the U.S., from countries such as Cameroon and Haiti, including longer detention times and a greater likelihood of deportation.
The week of Oct. 18-22 is a Week of Action for Cameroon, led by the Cameroon Advocacy Network (CAN), a newly formed organization of the Haitian Bridge Alliance in collaboration with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, UndocuBlack Network, CASA of Maryland and Alliance in Defense of Black Migrants.
Among the events during the week will be a virtual panel on conditions in Cameroon from 5 to 6 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 18, a live rally and music event in Washington, D.C., at Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 16th Street NW from 3 to 6 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 19, and a congressional briefing and visits on Oct. 20. Oct. 22 will be a day of social media action through CAN accounts (@camadvocacy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and many others, using hashtags including #CameroonTPSAct2021, #TPS4Cameroon, #DefendBlackImmigrants and #BlackImmigrantLivesMatter.
Presbyterians who are from Cameroon are invited to join in legislative visits on the 20th. Contact Susan Krehbiel, associate for Refugees and Asylum for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to sign up. Among Presbyterian participants in the efforts to support Cameroonians is Anita Chombeng, who works with refugee issues in the Presbytery of the Pacific and is a refugee from Cameroon.
“Participating in these actions is one way to live out our commitment to be a Matthew 25 Church,” Krehbiel said. “It is also important to remember that what is happening to our Black migrant siblings is not just something going on ‘out there.’ We know that there are Presbyterian members and friends who suffer the injustices of our broken immigration system every day. My hope is that this growing coalition will give even more Presbyterians the courage to speak out and advocate for the protection of Cameroonians, Haitians and the just and humane treatment for all who seek protection on our shores.”
People interested in learning more about migration, immigration, refugees and how they can help, from advocacy to welcome, are invited to the Together We Welcome conference Nov. 7-11, presented by Church World Service and co-sponsored and organized by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance support Refugee and Asylum ministries.
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