President Biden renewed a deportation amnesty Thursday for people from Hong Kong who have made their way to the U.S., saying they should not be forced to return home to growing political oppression by Beijing.
Mr. Biden’s move extends a previous grant announced in August 2021, plus opens a new window of eligibility so anyone who arrived after that date can gain status as well.
The president said China’s move to impose a wide-ranging national security law in 2020 violated the guarantees Hong Kong was given before the 1997 handover from the U.K. to China and instigated arrests of thousands of people protesting the government’s actions.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has continued to erode those rights and freedoms, and as such I am directing an extension and expansion of the deferral of removal of certain Hong Kong residents who are present in the United States,” the president wrote.
He was using a presidential power known as deferred enforced departure. Those protected by DED are free from fear of deportation even if they are in the country illegally. They also can apply for work permits, which lets them hold jobs and claim some taxpayer benefits.
Mr. Biden’s new grant is good for 24 months, and it can be renewed at the end of that period.
The numbers involved are probably low. Before the 2021 action, Homeland Security figured 3,000 to 4,000 people might be eligible. But the move does serve as a diplomatic thrust at China.
DED is similar to Temporary Protected Status, which is under the purview of Homeland Security.
The Biden administration has been generous in its use of DED and TPS to give people who are in the U.S. illegally, or those in danger of falling out of status, a new foothold, adding roughly 220,00 people to the protected rolls in just two years.