President Joe Biden on Aug. 5 offered a temporary “safe haven” for thousands of Hong Kong residents in the United States amid China’s ongoing crackdown on the Chinese territory.
In a signed memorandum, Biden directed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to defer the removal of eligible Hong Kong residents in the U.S. for 18 months, citing “compelling foreign policy reasons.”
Biden said that China “has continued its assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom, and cracking down on freedom of the press” since the controversial National Security Law (NSL) was imposed in June 2020.
Biden also noted of the arrests of at least 100 opposition politicians, activists, and protests under NSL.
“Offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents who have been deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong furthers United States interests in the region. The United States will not waver in our support of people in Hong Kong,” Biden said in the memo.
However, some legal conditions apply to be eligible to stay in the U.S., such as not having been convicted of felonies and not presenting as a threat to public safety.
Biden also further directed to allow employment authorization in the U.S. for those eligible to stay.
The Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) said they were “deeply grateful for and applaud this critical action by the administration to protect Hong Kongers in the U.S.”
HKDC Founder Samuel Chu told BBC News that the deferral could affect some 100,000 people.
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