The presidential memorandum, White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned in an announcement, directs “the deferral of removal of certain Hong Kong residents who are present in the United States, giving them a temporary safe haven.”

Biden’s memorandum directed that the deferral, efficient Thursday, will defer removing for the subsequent 18 months.

It comes over a yr after a nationwide safety regulation imposed by China criminalized acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion in Hong Kong, which has led to a crackdown on dissent. A newspaper has been closed down, public protest seems to be banned, and almost the entire metropolis’s main pro-democracy figures, together with activists and politicians, have both been jailed or pressured into exile.

Thursday’s motion, Psaki mentioned, “demonstrates President Biden’s strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community.”

She continued, “Given the politically motivated arrests and trials, the silencing of the media, and the diminishing the space for elections and democratic opposition, we will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong.”

It additionally comes after Biden declared a national emergency with respect to Hong Kong final month, citing actions by China that “fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy,” which, the White House mentioned, poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned the deferral sends “a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with people in Hong Kong.

“In the face of PRC and Hong Kong authorities’ makes an attempt to stifle democratic aspirations, we’ll take motion,” he said in a statement. “We will proceed to face up for the human rights and freedoms assured to folks in Hong Kong by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”