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Hong Kong government relaxes migration policy

Parents of right-of-abode seekers thank Catholic Church

Hong Kong government relaxes migration policy
Lam To-shing and about 50 parents on their regular protest on Jan. 19 reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

January 21, 2011

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Hong Kong residents who have been demanding the right of abode for their mainland-born children have expressed their thanks to the Catholic Church for its support as the government relaxed its migration policy recently. Starting from April 1, “adult mainland-born children” can apply for a single-entry permit, a document that allows them to stay in Hong Kong for a family reunion. This classification refers to mainlanders who were under 14 years of age when they applied for right of abode and whose father or mother become a Hong Kong resident before November 1, 2001, but whose cases were disqualified as they passed 14 during the period of application which took years. The government claims that the new policy will benefit 85 percent of families seeking right of abode. Lam To-shing, 65, chairperson of the Association for Parents Fighting for Right of Abode, has been separated from his son and daughter for more than 30 years. He migrated to Hong Kong in 1978, the same year his daughter was born. “I feel guilty for not being able to give them a complete family as I could only return to my home town occasionally,” he said. Lam and other parents have protested at the government headquarters at least three times a month since 1999. “The faulty policy has created discrimination against us and our children. Local people think we are taking their rice bowls or we are parasites living on social security.” “Only the Church has supported us all along,” he said, admitting that he felt strange at first. “How come the Catholics help us as we do not know each other?” Father Franco Mella of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions would accompany their protests whenever he is in Hong Kong. Lam also praised former Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun as “the best. He speaks out not only for us but for whatever injustices.” This week Lam led about 50 parents, mostly elderly, and supporters in their regular protest despite the good news. Yu Xiaoqing was eight years old when she applied for her right-of-abode but her case was closed when she reached 14. The new policy has benefited her but Yu, now 38, explained to she will continue joining the non-violent protest to fight for all other children who are born to Hong Kong residents. The fight of the abode-seekers began after Hong Kong’s handover in 1997. The Court of Final Appeal in 1999 supported the claims of the abode-seekers but the local government has asked the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, to reinterpret the Hong Kong Basic Law and subsequently overturned the court’s rule the same year. The Catholic Church repeatedly appealed to the government to allow the abode seekers to stay on humanitarian grounds. Related reports Veteran missioner sings out for social justice CATHOLICS TO SUPPORT ABODE-SEEKERS´ CLAIMS DESPITE COURT RULING AFTER HUNGER STRIKE, PRIEST CONTINUES SOLIDARITY WITH OVERSTAYING MAINLANDERS HK12967.1637
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