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Hong Kong Christians support residency for migrant workers

September 15, 2011

HONG KONG

Christian groups in Hong Kong are supporting migrant domestic workers seeking to change an immigration law that does not allow them to apply for permanent residency.

The Hong Kong Christian Institute, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, an Italian missionary group and a number of non-governmental organizations launched a campaign on Aug. 15, asking the government to change the law.

Normally, anyone who has been an “ordinary resident” in Hong Kong for seven years may apply for permanent residency. The immigration law, however, exempts foreign domestic help. A judicial review of the law, requested by a group of five Filipino workers, is scheduled for Aug. 22.

Christian groups said that the law is discriminatory and migrant domestic helpers should enjoy the same rights as other expatriates working in Hong Kong.

Politicians opposing the change have claimed that more than 200,000 migrant workers would stress Hong Kong’s population of seven million, raise the unemployment rate to 10 percent from 3.5 percent and cause the government to spend an extra $3.2 billion in social spending per year.

The Christian groups are claiming that politicians are causing hatred toward migrant workers and exploiting social divisions.

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