President Joe Biden is doing everything he can to protect the residents of Hong Kong from the dangerous Chinese government.
On Thursday, Biden said the U.S. would institute a deportation amnesty for any Hong Kong resident who is currently in America. The president said that persecution and arrests undertaken by the Chinese government are putting the people of Hong Kong in grave danger, and that these people deserve a “safe haven.”
In essence, what this new order means is that Hong Kong residents who are in the U.S. on a legal visa and would have to return back to their country soon are now able to stay in America without fear of being deported. This also applies to any Hong Kong residents who are actually in the U.S. illegally.
In addition, the order allows these people to apply for a work permit so they can support themselves while they’re in the U.S.
As Biden explained:
“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.”
This move by Biden is nothing new. It’s just an extension of other deportation amnesties that he’s either passed or extended during his short time in the White House. All of these orders have protected hundreds of thousands of people who are at threat by their home countries.
The Chinese government has been cranking up enforcement in Hong Kong in recent months, taking away many rights that citizens have enjoyed for years there. Protesters in the region have faced charges of terrorism and sedition, while the police are arresting people for political reasons.
As Biden described:
“Over the last year, the PRC 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.”
The deportation amnesty Biden recently passed for Hong Kong residents will last the next 18 months. The president would have the authority to extend it after that point, though.
In fact, many of the deportation amnesties that were originally passed as temporary measures have been extended. Some residents of Central American countries have been in the United States for more than 20 years because of similar temporary protections that went into place after hurricanes and earthquakes hit their countries.
In 1989, then-president George H.W. Bush took action that was similar to protect Chinese students who were in America, following protesters being massacred in Tiananmen Square in China.
Then, in 1992, Congress passed a bill that paved the way for these students to eventually receive full citizenship in the U.S.
Stephen Yale-Loeh, an immigration scholar who serves as a professor at Cornell Law School, said:
“If the human rights situation in Hong Kong worsens, Congress may need to do that here as well.”