Reps. Omar, Richmond, Castro Lead Letter to Condemn the Treatment of Cameroonian Migrants and Asylum Seekers in ICE Detention

October 13, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) led a letter to oppose the treatment of Cameroonian migrants and asylum seekers in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. The letter also raises serious concerns related to human rights violations, the ongoing Anglophone crisis, and the emergence of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. 

“We write to express grave concerns over the situation of Cameroonian migrants and asylum seekers in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention,” the Members wrote. “There have been several alarming high-profile incidents, including the death of a Cameroonian migrant in ICE detention last year and a hunger strike held at Pine Prairie this past June.”  

In the most recent U.S. Department of State annual human rights report on Cameroon, the Department identified patterns of extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearance by the Cameroonian government as well as various non-state actors. In 2019, the State Department restricted security aid to Cameroon in response to reported atrocities committed by Cameroonian security forces. Due to several overlapping crises in Cameroon, the denial of Cameroonian asylum seekers may result in tragedy for Cameroonians.  

A PDF of the letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below.

Tony H. Pham

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 

1500 12th St., SW

Washington, D.C. 20536

 

October 13, 2020

 

Dear Mr. Pham: 

We write to express grave concerns over the situation of Cameroonian migrants and asylum seekers in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. There have been several alarming high-profile incidents, including the death of a Cameroonian migrant in ICE detention last year1 and a hunger strike held at Pine Prairie this past June.2 

There are several overlapping crises in Cameroon, including grave human rights violations, the ongoing Anglophone crisis, and the emergence of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, that mean that for many Cameroonian asylum seekers, orders of removal may result in tragedy for Cameroonians. 

The United States has been active in recognizing this danger. The most recent U.S. Department of State annual human rights report on Cameroon identifies patterns of extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearance by the Cameroonian state as well as various non-state actors. The State Department took these allegations seriously enough that in February 2019, they restricted security aid to Cameroon in response to reported atrocities committed by Cameroonian security forces.3 

Given the grave circumstances in Cameroon, it is a moral and legal imperative to ensure that Cameroonians are being given the utmost concern in their asylum applications. 

To better understand the Department’s treatment of Cameroonians, we request the following information no later than October 30, 2020. 

  • How many Cameroonians have been removed each year from FY10 through FY20?
  • How many of these individuals were removed to Cameroon and how many to other countries? If not Cameroon, which third countries have accepted these Cameroonian nationals?
  • How many Cameroonians have applied for asylum or other forms of relief and protection during this same time period?
    • What percentage of these applications have been denied, disaggregated by the form of relief? 
    • What percentage of these applicants have had legal counsel?
  • What is the rate of denied parole for Cameroonian asylum seekers, and how does it compare to the rates for other nationalities? 
    • If there are large disparities, what accounts for these disparities? 
  • How many Cameroonians are currently in ICE custody, and where are they held? Please include a list of all detention facility names and locations.
    • How many have been approved for bond, but remain in ICE detention, for inability to pay or other reasons?

page1image58989120

Sincerely, 

Ilhan Omar

Member of Congress

Cedric L. Richmond

Member of Congress

 Joaquin Castro

Member of Congress