Earlier this month, President Joe Biden granted temporary refuge to people of Hong Kong who are currently living in the United States. The signed memorandum that was released on August 5 states that the Secretary of Homeland Security will defer the removal of Hong Kong residents present in the U.S. for 18 months while they live and work.
Hong Kong’s New National Security Law
The order comes in response to the Chinese government’s efforts to crackdown on democracy movements in the country and Hong Kong, a city that was once known for its freedom. Hong Kong’s sweeping new national security law essentially erodes the rights promised to citizens when the British colony handed back to China in 1997.
It also comes as the U.S. and China are at odds over foreign policy and trade, further straining the already tense relationship between the two countries. White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently gave a statement on the matter:
“Given the politically motivated arrests and trials, the silencing of the media, and the diminishing space for elections and democratic opposition, we will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong.”
While we don’t know the exact number of Hong Kong residents that will be affected by the deferral of removal in the U.S., the number is easily in the thousands. The move, which falls under the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program, specifies there are a few exceptions to the temporary refuge, such as:
- People who voluntarily return to the city
- People who have not continuously resided in the U.S.
- People who have committed a felony or two or more misdemeanors while in the country
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