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Sen. Cruz blocks Hong Kong refugee bill, blasts Democrats for being soft on Chinese Communist Party

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lambasted his Democratic colleagues in a speech on the Senate floor Friday, denouncing their support for a bill to give refugees from Hong Kong temporary protected status as a cynical ploy to undermine U.S. immigration law.

On Dec. 7, 2020, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed “The Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act,” a bill that designates Hong Kong as a TPS-designated country for 18 months; increases the number of immigrant visas the U.S. will permit from Hong Kong; and permits individuals who had a “significant role in an organization that supported the 2019 or 2020 protests related to China’s encroachment into Hong Kong’s autonomy or the Hong Kong National Security Law enacted in 2020” or “was arrested, charged, detained, or convicted for participating in the nonviolent exercise of certain rights” to establish that they have a “well-founded fear of persecution” that can be used to seek refugee status to the United States.

On Friday, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) asked for unanimous consent to pass the bill in the Senate, but Cruz objected, blocking the bill.

In his speech on the Senate floor, Cruz accused Democrats of exploiting the crisis in Hong Kong to make changes to U.S. immigration law.

“This is not a Hong Kong bill. It is instead a Democratic messaging bill, because House Democrats made, I think, a cynical decision to try to exploit the crisis in Hong Kong to advance their long standing goals [of] changing our immigration laws,” Cruz noted.

He accused the bill of posing a national security risk by giving the Chinese Communist Party an opportunity to send spies to the United States.

“This bill […] would dramatically lower the standards for both refugee and asylum status to the point where individuals would qualify even if they cannot establish an individualized and credible fear of persecution,” Cruz asserted. “There is particular risk when doing so [because] we know [it] would be used by the Chinese communists to send even more Chinese spies into the United States.

“Last I checked, when the Chinese communist government sends spies into our country, they’re quite willing to concoct a bogus background portfolio of materials,” he said.

Citing recent reports that U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) became romantically entangled with an alleged Chinese spy and that Swalwell was one of several U.S. politicians to be targeted by this spy, Cruz demanded that Congress aggressively confront the CCP.

“We just recently had news of Chinese spies targeting members of Congress, targeting prominent Democrats. This is an espionage threat America faces of our adversaries taking advantage of our laws and targeting our leadership,” Cruz said. “The truth also is that China has confiscated passports and I’m told, stopped issuing exit visas to persons deemed problematic. As a result, China is highly unlikely to let actual dissidents leave Hong Kong.

“We urgently need to have a real substantive bipartisan conversation about countering the Chinese Communist Party, about defending the United States of America, about standing up and winning this battle. This bill doesn’t advance that objective,” Cruz proclaimed.

The Texas senator offered two of his own pieces of legislation for the Senate to consider as alternatives to confront the Chinese Communist Party. His first bill, the SCRIPT Act, would target Hollywood studios that censor films for screening in China on behalf of the communist government. Cruz accused Hollywood of being “complicit” in China’s censorship and propaganda, citing several examples of films that were edited to remove material deemed objectionable by CCP authorities.

“The only reason the SCRIPT Act isn’t passing is because the Senate Democrats are objecting,” Cruz charged. “It should not be lost on anybody that the Hollywood billionaires who are enriching themselves with this Chinese propaganda are among the biggest political donors to today’s Democratic Party.”

The second bill Cruz put forward is the SHAME Act, legislation that would sanction CCP officials for the atrocities committed against Uighur Muslims, including forced sterilizations and abortions.

“The SHAME Act focuses in particular on human rights atrocities. It focuses on over a million Uyghurs in concentration camps and other religious minorities [like] the Falun Gong practitioners, who are captured and murdered and whose organs are harvested,” Cruz said, describing his legislation.

“My Democratic colleagues like to say on the question of abortion, they are pro-choice. Well, the Chinese government right now is engaging in forced sterilizations and forced abortions — taking Uyghur mothers and forcing them to abort their children against their wills. Whatever the Democrats’ views on abortion in the United States is a matter of a woman’s choice, surely, they must be united in saying a government forcing a woman to abort her child, to take the life of her unborn child, is an unspeakable atrocity,” he continued.

“The SHAME Act does something very simple — it imposes sanctions on the Chinese Communist government leaders responsible for implementing this horrific ‘1984’ style policy of forced sterilizations and forced abortions.”

Some advocates in support of the Democratic bill blocked by Cruz were furious with the senator.

“I’m enraged,” Jeffrey Ngo, a Georgetown University Ph.D. student and an activist, told the South China Morning Post. “[Cruz’s] actions today have single-handedly endangered the safety and security of me and others just like me – Hong Kong protesters currently in the U.S.

“I cannot agree [with] his dismissal of the positive impact that this bill can have to the lives of real people,” Ngo added. “And not just the lives of real people, but the people who he purports to support.”

Others took more diplomatic tones in their criticism.

“We want to tell Senator Cruz that one needs not to pick between preventing [Chinese Communist Party] censorship on the screen or saving brave activists from life in prison,” said Samuel Chu, founding head of the U.S.-based Hong Kong Democracy Council, in a statement. “Refusing to send Hongkongers back to become political prisoners and calling out atrocities in Xinjiang are not mutually exclusive. Fighting against the [Chinese Communist Party] and standing with Hong Kong requires every tool at our disposal.”

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