A group of men from the African country of Cameroon allege that they were physically coerced into signing the necessary papers allowing their deportation. The stories told by these men demonstrate the cruel and arbitrary methods used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Attempt to escape violence
The eight men took their stories to the Southern Poverty Law Center and a number of immigrant advocate organizations. Their story was presented to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as a formal complaint. One member of the group said that ICE officers grabbed him, forced him to the ground, and sprayed pepper spray into his eyes. He was handcuffed, and in the physical struggle that ensued, an officer broke the man’s finger. The other seven men in the group told similar stories.
All of the men were in detention in Mississippi, but they have since been transferred to the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas where they joined another 100 Cameroon asylum seekers. The idea of being returned to their native Cameroon has made many of the men extremely anxious and frightened. They have not been provided with any specific information about their futures, especially how soon they may be transferred to Cameroon.
The bigger picture
Cameroonians seeking asylum in the United States are attempting to escape the violence, torture and bloodshed that has killed tens of thousands of their countrymen. The country’s official language is French, and most of the asylum seekers are English-speaking.
Cameroonians have achieved significant success in convincing federal judges in the United States to grant them asylum. Their asylum rate in 2019 was 80%, compared to 29% for all nationalities.
Under the Trump administration, almost every immigrant group is treated differently from one another. Anyone who is concerned about their asylum status or green card application may wish to consult an experienced immigration attorney for advice.