In politics, there is a tendency to release unfavorable information on Friday afternoons. The Biden administration has often taken this approach to publishing monthly border encounters, which are historically bad. The same Friday release strategy also applies to announcements an administration does not want much scrutiny over, figuring most Americans are already focused on their weekends and by Monday it is no longer “news”. Today’s announcement, ahead of a holiday weekend no less, by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Cameroon falls into this latter category.
Under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the DHS secretary may designate a foreign country for TPS due to one or more of the following circumstances: (1) ongoing armed conflict; (2) an environmental disaster; or (3) extraordinary and temporary conditions. The mere existence of any of these factors is not enough for an initial designation or an extension. Instead, the law requires that the ongoing armed conflict “would pose a serious threat to [the] personal safety” of the country’s nationals if returned; the environmental disaster requires that the home country is “unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return”; and the extraordinary and temporary conditions must prevent the alien “from returning to the state in safety”.
I have extensively covered Secretary Mayorkas’s proclivity for TPS designation with little regard for the statutory requirements to make such decisions. In the absence of legislative amnesty, Biden’s top immigration lieutenant has employed TPS as the next best option; it provides what might be termed "amnesty-lite", in the form of work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and a deportation reprieve. The last benefit listed is immaterial these days as the Biden administration isn't removing illegal aliens anyway.
So why do I suggest that the TPS Cameroon designation was intentionally announced on Good Friday to avoid public accountability? A number of factors expose this designation as politically motivated and not in adherence to the statutory requirements. For starters, the quote attributed to Secretary Mayorkas reads in part, “Cameroonian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.” (Emphasis added.) The intent behind TPS is to prevent negative immigration consequences when events outside of your control prevent you from departing the United States when required under the terms of your visa. That Mayorkas is emphasizing work permits underscores how the Biden administration views TPS as a vessel to enhance the lives of illegal aliens in the country rather than enforcing our immigration laws.
And then there’s last month’s report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) entitled, "The Urgency of Designating Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status". The report is high on emotional appeal and less so on statutory analysis, consistent with the Biden administration’s approach to immigration policy. The brief justification provided by DHS for designating Cameroon for TPS on both the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions prongs read like they were heavily borrowed from the CAP report. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Biden administration is doing the bidding of special interest groups rather than faithfully applying our immigration laws.
CAP had estimated the Cameroonian illegal alien population that would benefit from amnesty-lite at 40,000 but it appears they included lawful permanent residents in that total, a population that does not need TPS because they have a direct path to U.S. citizenship if they choose to try to naturalize. DHS has reportedly estimated the number of beneficiaries at 11,700.