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    Hong Kong Migrants Gear Up for Residency Battle

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    Protesters in Hong Kong rallied on the weekend to support the right of residency for foreign domestic workers. Although the High Court has ruled in favor of one domestic worker, the government has vowed to do everything it can to overturn the result.

    Migrant workers rallied in central Hong Kong on Sunday to support upcoming residency hearings.

    On September 30, a Filipino domestic helper won a legal battle to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong. The High Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny foreign maids the right of residency even though many were employed on short term, two year contracts, that are often repeatedly renewed.

    Another two cases are to be heard in the next two weeks.

    While rights activists and the large Filipino community say a ruling in favor of the helper would be a vote for fairness and non-discrimination, many Hong Kong residents oppose such a prospect. There are fears it would open the floodgate to thousands of other workers wanting to claim residency.

    Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said that he was disappointed with the result of the High Court verdict and would do everything he could to overturn the result.

    [Eman Villanueva, Vice Chairman, Migrant Worker's Union]:
    "It is, I think, very unbecoming for a leader of a country or a place like Hong Kong to tell publicly that he's disappointed with the court's ruling favoring equal treatment to migrant workers. It sends the wrong signal that the government is the one leading this discrimination towards foreign domestic workers."

    Hong Kong's immigration department says it won't process any applications for residency from foreign domestic workers until the government appeals the court's decision.