Cameroonian asylum seekers scheduled for deportation on Tuesday “may be killed”
By William Bello
At least 21 Cameroonian asylum seekers are scheduled to be deported on Tuesday, November 10th, according the asylum seekers, some of whom have been in detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for over two years. Cameroon American Council and other allies firmly demand a stop to the deportation and a release of the detainees into their communities in the U.S.
The American authorities that seek to deport the men and women cannot guarantee that the Cameroonian government will not retaliate against them once back in Cameroon. There is a high probability that these deportees could end up as victims of a begrudged Cameroonian government seeking to flex its military-enforced authority on escapees who fear they will be scapegoated for the brutally violent situation they fled.
Clovis, a soon to be 33 year-old native of Cameroon’s conflict-riddled Northwest Region is one of the detainees held at a Texas detention center since Tuesday November 03, 2020 and scheduled for deportation. Clovis is from Batibo, where his widowed mother and grandmother live faced with growing insurrections by indigenous detractors and retaliations by state forces. The already dire situation of a global pandemic and national civil unrest is only made more complex for these elderly women as the safety of their son and grandson weighs heavy on their minds.
The women were worried about a perilous end during Clovis’s arduous journey, but rejoiced when he made it to the U.S., thinking his odyssey would soon come to an end. Their feeling of loss is gut wrenching, Clovis’s older brother Levinus said in an interview. Being denied the possibility to remain in the U.S amounts to a colossal deflation of hope for decency, democracy and sheer humanity.
Levinus is praying for divine intervention to stop the deportation and be reunited with his younger brother and their three other sisters, all of whom are nurses who have fought tirelessly to save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Levinus said that Clovis would have more than enough to keep him sheltered, nourished, medicated and available unfailingly. For Clovis’ sister, knowing that they are unable to stop their brother’s deportation despite all they have given to the U.S. hurts greatly. “Since Clovis was removed to Dallas, Texas and scheduled for deportation, his sisters can’t stop crying. It brings back memories of the loss of our father.” Levinus said.
Clovis left Cameroon in October 2018 after selling his inheritance in land and livestock to finance the trip. Leaving behind an existence he had come to fear and not recognise, Clovis first departed for visa-free Philippines. He stayed there for some four months hoping to make something decent for himself, but with the likeliness of that happening diminishing fast, he decided with the approval of his siblings to attempt the treacherous route into the U.S.
Clovis went through Ecuador to Colombia, travelling by bus routes rather deplorable conditions to Panama. At the border with Panama, he was issued an official pass allowing him to traverse Panama on his way to the U.S. What followed next was a near week-long foot trek across the country, sleeping in bushes, while exposed to natural hazards as well as racism from Latin Americans throughout the journey. When he arrived at a refugee settlement, he stayed there for another 4 weeks before embarking on the next foot of the journey which took him to Nicaragua. From there he was smuggled into Guatemala before obtaining another pass once at the south of the Mexico border that permitted them to travel across the territory to the northern border with the US. Levinus said that Clovis had arrived into the US at the California detention center before Trump had passed his imposition on Mexico for any further passes into the US being offered by their government. By July 2019, Clovis was already on US soil.
Since his initial detention, Clovis has gone from the California to Tennessee, then Louisiana before being finally moved to Dallas, Texas. His attorney made a mistaken entry on the dates in his form, and because the accidental discrepancy in other documents, his whole case was deemed inconsistent and contradictory. From that point on, his situation has spiralled. Clovis was denied exit for external medical examination for his bronchitis even though he is asthmatic. He was expecting to check out a possible ear infection when ICE moved him from Louisiana to Dallas. There were few restrictions for preventing the spread of Covid-19 at any of the detention centers, yet coronavirus was the reason ICE gave for denying his brother Levinus’s visit in August 2020. Clovis’s mental health has deteriorated, his brother said, describing that could barely stand the inhumanities of living without light in a facility overflowing with human waste due to stoppage of drainage water and other sanitary conditions.
Levinus has been there for his brother financially and all since he left Cameroon but now feels handicapped by a system that would not even allow him to see his brother. He is worried he might never see his brother again if deported. “It is better my brother is taken and slaughtered here in the US, so we would know how to trace the corpse, rather than have him sent to Cameroon, where he may be killed without ever any accountability,” Levinus said.