By Special RELEASE from the office of Representative Glenn Ivey
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. advocates working with and hailing from African countries carried out a week of action for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and other forms of protection for African immigrants. As leaders and members of Congress underscored in today’s press conference, too many African immigrants in the U.S. would face dangerous conditions in vulnerable African countries, making TPS designations particularly urgent for Mali, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Sudan and all African countries meeting the statutory grounds for relief.
“Temporary Protected Status is one of the most important tools we have to prevent our immigrant neighbors from being deported and forced to return to violence, political upheaval, and devastation,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). “Unfortunately, our immigration policies continue to leave Black and brown immigrants behind. I am proud to join these incredible advocates calling for redesignating Sudan, South Sudan and Cameroon, and designating Mali, the DRC, Nigeria and Mauritania for TPS.”
“TPS is critical for countries in Africa like Cameroon and Nigeria among others. We must treat those fleeing war and political violence from African countries in the same way we have welcomed those from Ukraine. Our country has been made stronger by the innovation, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial efforts of African immigrants. I join leaders of ACT in asking the administration to reinstate, implement or otherwise grant TPS to the countries highlighted in today’s roundtable,” said Rep. Glenn Ivey (MD-04).
“Facing violence, instability, and disasters, it is clear that multiple African countries meet the necessary conditions for TPS and other protections,” said Diana Konaté, Policy Director with African Communities Together (ACT). “Moreover, offering protection to our brothers and sisters is just the right thing to do.”
In letters to the administration, advocates have made a clear case for TPS based on the conditions on the ground and how they align with statutory language behind TPS.
“I’ve seen firsthand some of the worst humanitarian disasters,” said Nils Kinuani, Immigration Department coordinator and Board Director for the Congolese Community of Washington Metropolitan. “A death toll of millions in the DRC makes it painfully clear that it’s time to extend shelter to our neighbors here in the U.S. Instead of endangering people by sending them back, let’s extend our hand and offer protection. Let’s protect the Congolese people.”
Over the past year, advocates have successfully secured TPS for Black-majority countries including Cameroon, Somalia, Haiti, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan. These designations have spared thousands of people from some of the most unspeakable conflicts, humanitarian crises, and climate change-fueled devastation. Even so, we note the measurably disproportionate effort required from advocates and affected communities from Black majority and African countries to receive these necessary protections.
“Biden and Harris campaigned as candidates who could heal racial wounds and bring people together,” said Carolyn Tran, Co-Director of Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP). “But Biden’s actions, all but closing the door on asylum, restricting migration, and erecting barriers for Black migrants demonstrate otherwise. It is imperative that the Biden-Harris administration designate TPS for Black majority and African countries now.”
“Extensive and protracted armed conflict mean that Nigeria is facing an extraordinary level of insecurity,” said Gbenga Ogunjimi, Founder & CEO of Nigerian Center Inc. “Unfortunately, the conflict has recently escalated, leading to unprecedented levels of insecurity in Nigeria. The time to take action is now.”
While some African immigrants are protected, the advocates told Congress in a briefing this week, too many face intolerable levels of danger. It is crucial for the Biden administration to designate all countries with conditions that make return untenable, including, but not limited to, Mauritania, Mali, the (DRC), Nigeria, and Sudan.
“It is immoral for thousands of migrants in the U.S. to face the prospect of deportation, when it would mean returning to horror, instability, violence and devastation — and in the case of Black Mauritanians, slavery,” said Zeinabou Sall of the Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in The U.S. “As the many advocates who took part in this week’s events made clear, it is imperative for the Biden Administration to act. They must designate humanitarian protection and deportation relief for all.”
“With the increasing divisiveness and scapegoating of immigrants—especially those from African countries—by extreme political actors, and with the Biden administration all but prohibiting asylum, it is of utmost importance that the administration live up to the values it proclaims to have and use the full breadth of its executive power to provide essential humanitarian protections in the form of TPS,” said Ramya Reddy, Coordinator of the TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition.
African Communities Together (ACT) is a national nonprofit dedicated towards improving the lives of African immigrants in the United States, and empowers African immigrants to integrate socially, advance economically and engage civically.
The TPS-DED AAC is a national coalition of more than 100 organizations with deep expertise in law and policy surrounding TPS and DED. Member organizations range from community-based organizations directly serving impacted communities in the United States to international NGOs, working in and providing insight from affected countries.