Hong Kong Immigration Case Sparks Fierce Debate

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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A Hong Kong court is hearing a challenge to the territory's immigration law that could possibly clear the way for almost 300,000 foreign domestic workers to acquire permanent residency.

Current law permits foreigners who have lived in Hong Kong for seven years to apply for permanent status, earning the right to vote and open a business. But domestic workers, most of them from labor-exporting countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, are denied that right on the grounds they are not ordinary residents.

Philippine maid Evangeline Vellejos is challenging that law in a case being heard Monday and Tuesday, arguing it violates the territory's constitution. The case has sparked fierce debate, with supporters of the current law saying a change would place huge strains on Hong Kong's social services.

Vellejos has lived in Hong Kong since 1986.