President Joe Biden is offering a temporary “safe haven” to Hong Kong residents in the U.S. in response to the sweeping Hong Kong National Security Law passed last year.
Unwavering support: In a memo issued on Thursday, Biden tasked the Department of Homeland Security to enact a “deferral of removal” for up to 18 months for people from Hong Kong living in the U.S., enabling them to extend their stay due to “compelling foreign policy reasons,” reported Reuters.
- According to Biden, the initiative shows the country’s “interests in the region,” noting that the U.S. will continue to support the people of Hong Kong.
- The memo noted: “Over the last year, the PRC (People’s Republic of 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.”
- It further stated that the U.S. “will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community.”
- Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said the “vast majority” of Hong Kong people residing in the U.S. are expected to be eligible.
- He added that those eligible are also entitled to seek employment authorization.
- Hong Kong native and University of Notre Dame Research Associate Maggie Shum said she cried tears of joy after learning about the offer.
China’s response: In response to the memo, China released a statement to reporters accusing the U.S. of meddling in its affairs, noting that every country has a “legitimate right and duty” to “safeguard its national security.”
- “The U.S. has prolific laws on national security but chooses to smear the Hong Kong National Security Law out of political motivation,” a representative from the Hong Kong government said, referring to the law that cracked down on the mounting protests in Hong Kong last year.
Last month, the U.S. government enacted more sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong. It also updated an advisory warning on businesses about the risks of operating under the national security law.