October 28, 2020

Van Hollen, Cardin, Colleagues Call on Trump Administration to Halt Deportation of Cameroonian Asylum-Seekers

Many Cameroonians Face Grave Danger in their Return

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) led Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), today in sending a letter to Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, urging the Administration to halt deportations of Cameroonian asylum-seekers. The Senators’ letter follows a recent legal complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others calling the Administration’s recent actions against Cameroonians “tantamount to torture.”

The Senators write, “In recent weeks, our offices have seen an increase in reports of ICE deporting Cameroonian asylum-seekers. We are concerned by this trend, as the ongoing human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon place deported individuals in grave danger. We urge you to halt the deportation of Cameroonian asylum-seekers until, at the very least, the violence has abated. We further request that no such detainee be removed if they have pending legal motions.”

They go on to urge, “The United States has a moral obligation not to turn our backs on civilians fleeing from conflict. These individuals are targets for both government forces and armed separatist groups. Allowing their deportation under these circumstances would place their lives at risk.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

In recent weeks, our offices have seen an increase in reports of ICE deporting Cameroonian asylum-seekers. We are concerned by this trend, as the ongoing human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon place deported individuals in grave danger. We urge you to halt the deportation of Cameroonian asylum-seekers until, at the very least, the violence has abated. We further request that no such detainee be removed if they have pending legal motions.

Roughly 700,000 people have been displaced and several thousand have been killed since the conflict in Cameroon began, with over 3.9 million currently in need of humanitarian support. ICE detainees returned to Cameroon face a high risk of being detained, beaten, disappeared, tortured, or possibly even killed. 

The United States has a moral obligation not to turn our backs on civilians fleeing from conflict. These individuals are targets for both government forces and armed separatist groups. Allowing their deportation under these circumstances would place their lives at risk.

We urge you to halt the deportation of Cameroonian asylum-seekers and look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

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