Statement for Record For Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Hong Kong & U.S. Refugee Policy (12.15.2020)

December 15, 2020

On December 15, 2020, Amnesty International USA submitted this statement to Chairman Cornyn, Ranking Member Durbin, and Members of the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration in advance of the December 16, 2020 hearing on Supporting Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement Through U.S. Refugee Policy”.

The statement concludes with the following recommendations for U.S. officials and Congress:

  • Support the human rights of the people of Hong Kong by calling on the Chinese government and Hong Kong authorities to repeal or amend the National Security Law on the basis that it is incompatible with international human rights obligations and stop using the National Security Law to disproportionately limit peaceful expression.
  • Ensure the United States is closely monitoring the treatment of individuals who are criminally prosecuted, detained, or imprisoned on the basis of the National Security Law and insist that all authorities comply with international human rights standards.
  • Call for pro-democracy lawmakers and their supporters to be allowed to meaningfully participate in the political process, and that authorities allow all disqualified members of political parties to challenge the decision in court and let the legal process play out transparently.
  • Oppose the prioritization of refugees from Hong Kong to the detriment of other particularly vulnerable refugees, as President Trump’s executive order issued on July 14, 2020, seeks to do, instead ensure Hong Kongers at risk of persecution have access to protection in the United States, including by designating them as a Priority 2 in the USRAP.
  • Restore a fair, just, and welcoming asylum process in the United States, including by ensuring that people seeking safety are not detained as default and have meaningful access to medical and child welfare experts, and by ensuring that immigrants and asylum-seekers in proceedings are guaranteed access to counsel.
  • Ease pressure on countries currently hosting the greatest number of refugees by participating in equitable and predictable pathways to protection for refugees, including by expanding access to traditional resettlement, and by facilitating the successful integration of refugees in their host countries or helping to facilitate the conditions for voluntary return to refugees’ countries of origin.
  • Support President-elect Biden’s call for increasing the FY21 admissions goal and restore regional allocations for refugee admissions to reflect global needs, reestablish the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program’s acceptance of UN High Commissioner for Refugees referrals, and ensure Congress appropriates increased funds to allow for increased refugee admissions in FY21.
  • In addition to expanding resettlement, the U.S. should invest in other admission pathways, including humanitarian programs, family reunification, and a private sponsorship model, and expand community involvement in resettlement by robustly promoting community sponsorship through co-sponsorship programs and private sponsorship.
  • Apply the provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol to refugees without discrimination.

We stand ready to work with the Committee and Congress to ensure that Hong Kongers, and other persecuted people, can access safety and a new life here in the United States. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to Joanne Lin at [email protected].