By Uglobal Staff
United States’ President Joe Biden has signed an order to defer the enforced departure of thousands of Hong Kong residents in the U.S. for 18 months.
Biden also said the Hong Kongers who would benefit from his order would be allowed to work during this period in the country, according to the White House memorandum.
Citing China's repressive measures to thwart the freedoms and human rights of the people of Hong Kong, the president said his order was aimed at furthering American interests in the region.
"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," he said.
Although the memorandum and the Department of Homeland Security website do not specify the exact number of Hong Kong residents in the U.S. expected to benefit from this latest measure, national media sources quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying that the figure was in the thousands.
In the memorandum itself, Biden said the Secretary of Homeland Security had been directed to defer the removal of "any Hong Kong resident" except for those who either voluntarily returned to Hong Kong or Mainland China, or those who did continuously live in the U.S. since the time the order was issued, or who were convicts or were deemed as detrimental to American interests or foreign policy objectives.
The presidential order also gives direction "to consider suspending regulatory requirements with respect to F-1 nonimmigrant students who are Hong Kong residents as the Secretary of Homeland Security determines to be appropriate."
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, welcomed Biden's order, but pointed out that it fell short of his demand to offer full asylum to Hong Kongers in the U.S.
Senator Sasse introduced a Hong Kong Asylum Bill in May last year after the Chinese Communist Party’s National People’s Congress adopted a law imposing national security legislation on Hong Kong.
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