With China increasingly cracking down on Hong Kong, a Florida Republican on Capitol Hill is continuing to push his proposal to let protesters enter the U.S. as refugees.
Over the summer, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the “Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act” this week with the support of U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Mary., Bob Menendez, D-NJ, Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., and Todd Young, R-Ind. The bill “would provide those Hong Kongers who peacefully protested Beijing’s corrupt justice system, and have a well-founded fear of persecution, to be eligible for Priority 2 Refugee status” and is in “response to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) actions to implement its Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”
Besides granting Hong Kong protester Priority 2 Refugee Status, the bill would also waive immigration intent for non-immigrant visas and let refugees who have their citizenship revoked by the Chinese regime stay in the U.S. The bill would end in five years.
Rubio brought the bill back this week with the continued support of Cardin, Menendez, Merkley and Young. Other backers include U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Coons, D-Del., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., James Lankford, R-Okla., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Oreg.
“The CCP is tightening its stranglehold on Hong Kong and with that comes the targeting of Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders and activists,” Rubio said this week. “We have already seen activists, including Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and others get dragged away to prison for nothing more than exercising the rights guaranteed to them. The U.S. must do all it can to assist those Hong Kongers who have courageously stood up to defend the city they love from the CCP’s persecution and open our doors to them. I am proud to re-introduce this bipartisan bill that will do just that. We must also continue to encourage like-minded nations to make similar accommodations in support of those Hong Kongers in need of safe harbor.”
“As the people of Hong Kong continue to face Beijing’s tightening grip on their autonomy, freedoms and basic human rights, the United States must hold its torch high and proud for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Menendez said. “We are introducing this bipartisan legislation to reiterate to the Chinese Communist Party that the United States stands foursquare with the people of Hong Kong and that we are committed to ensuring that they will not fall through the cracks of our broken immigration system if they seek refuge for standing up for their rights.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. U.S. Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, introduced the bill in the House last year with the support of a host of cosponsors from both sides of the aisle including then U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee. Yoho retired last year, keeping his pledge to serve only four terms in the House. Curtis has reintroduced the bill again this year.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.