While the coronavirus pandemic has distracted the world since February, the Chinese Communist Party has moved to consolidate its control over Hong Kong, passing sweeping “national security” laws to crack down on protests in the city and placing Hong Kong’s civil liberties—afforded under the longstanding “one country, two systems” arrangement—at risk.
The situation for the former British colony seems increasingly dire. And U.S. policymakers appear to have few options available to help shape the response. One new idea is beginning to take hold: Let Hong Kong residents move to America.
The idea of letting in refugees fleeing the CCP has become an increasingly pertinent question for U.S. policymakers in recent months, and the response has been encouragingly bipartisan.
In the past few weeks alone, two major bills aimed at the issue passed the Senate with overwhelming support in the Senate. The first bill would place sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the Hong Kong crackdown; the second aims to give refugee status to Hong Kongers at risk of persecution by the Chinese state. Both of these initiatives come on the heels of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, an earlier round of sanctions passed by near-universal majorities in both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the president in late 2019.