In March, President Joe Biden said the U.S. would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, granting Temporary Protected Status also known as TPS to another 30,000 already in the U.S. But while Ukrainians fleeing the war are met with great marks of solidarity the same doesn't apply for all.
Wilfred Tebah fled his country, Cameroun about three years ago because of its ongoing conflict and the risk of persecution. "There are a lot of Cameroonians in the United States and some are still in detention and some are still at the border which with this, it could help them from being deported, says the 27 year-old, We are in danger, I want to emphasize it. And only TPS for Cameroon will help us be taken out of that danger".
Temporary Protected Status provides a work permit for six to 18 months. Recently, the NGO Human rights Watch delivered a report saying some Cameroonians experienced unfounded asylum denials and abuse in detention in the U.S.
Wilfred wrote a letter to Republican senator Rob Portman explaining his situation. He says, he would like to be given the same treatment as the one given to Ukrainians. "I can't really say it's unfair because they deserve it like we too deserve it. So the only thing we can do is to continue to plead to ask them that we need it.", explains Wilfred.
Equal treatement for all
Ukrainian asylum seekers are exempt from asylum restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Hundreds of them are currently waiting in the mexican city of Tijuana to request protection in the United States.
"The U.S. extending humanitarian protections to predominately white and European refugees, all the while these 100 million people of concern to the UNCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) , again predominately people of color, from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, they continue to languish.", says Tom K. Wong, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of California San Diego.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TPS and other humanitarian programs, declined to comment the complaints of racism in American immigration policy.