A group of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Congress asking for refugee status for persecuted citizens, according to a report by Politico.
The activists, currently exiled from Hong Kong, asked lawmakers Wednesday to grant Priority 2 Refugee Status for pro-democracy advocates facing “well-founded fears of persecution,” POLITICO reported, as well as Temporary Protected Status and extensions of visas to “high-skilled” Hong Kong citizens in the U.S. The letter was signed by 18 Hong Kong pro-democracy groups in addition to the activists, according to Politico.
The letter asked Congress to quickly pass legislation granting Hong Kong citizens the requested protections. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez had previously introduced the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act in February, which would have granted citizens Priority 2 status as well as waived immigration intent as a factor for visas.
“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,” Rubio said in a press release announcing the bill.
The senators did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
President Joe Biden has not expressed an opinion on the bill, which is currently in committee, according to Politico.
The Biden administration issued an advisory last week for American companies doing business in Hong Kong, warning of a “deteriorating” political situation. The White House also issued sanctions on seven Chinese officials Friday over Beijing’s continued crackdown on democracy.
Biden condemned the forced closing of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily in a June press release, calling it a “sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world.”
“The United States will not waver in our support of people in Hong Kong and all those who stand up for the basic freedoms all people deserve,” Biden said.
The U.S. previously granted protections to Chinese pro-democracy advocates in 1990 following the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Politico reported, after former President George H.W. Bush signed an executive order allowing Chinese students to stay in the U.S. over fears of persecution.
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