Biden delays removal of Hong Kong residents amid China’s crackdown

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden on Thursday directed the Department of Homeland Security to defer for 18 months the removal of certain Hong Kong residents in the United States, citing Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and imposition of a strict national security law in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. The order will allow Hong Kong residents whose U.S. visas are expired and who are otherwise legally removable to remain in the United States.

In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for “the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the residents of Hong Kong” and said his order was in recognition of “the significant erosion of those rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China.” The order also says China “has undermined the enjoyment of rights and freedoms” in the Hong Kong special administrative region, including ones protected under the so-called Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Since June 2020, when China unilaterally imposed its national security law on Hong Kong, police in the semi-autonomous region have taken into custody at least 100 opposition politicians, activists and protestors on charges under that law, the memo noted. Police also have arrested more than 10,000 people in connection with anti-government protests. This action was taken by China in response to the anti-government protests that started in Hong Kong in 2019.