Bill Would Ease Tough Immigration Rules On People With HIV
Posted by pozlife on December 16, 2007
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: December 15, 2007 – 2:00 pm ET
(Washington) Legislation was introduced in the Senate Friday to ease restrictions on people with HIV entering the US or becoming residents.
The bill was filed by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR).
"The United States has one of the harshest restrictions in the world on HIV-positive immigrants," the two said in a statement.
HIV-positive people from other countries are almost completely banned from entering the U.S. by law and are barred from seeking residency.
Customs officials have the power to search anyone’s luggage and if they find HIV medication, send the person back on the next plane.
Immigration officials also can force a temporary visitor to take an HIV test on demand.
HIV is the only condition permanently written in to the law.
For every other disease, Health and Human Services is authorized to add or subtract based upon its discretion and the threat to the public health.
The U.S. is one of only 13 countries to have such harsh HIV restrictions including, Armenia, Brunei, China, Iraq, Qatar, South Korea, Libya, Moldova, Oman, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.
"It’s incredible that the federal government still tolerates a ban that not only restricts AIDS experts with the disease but also refugees who are seeking asylum in our country," said Kerry. "My legislation will end this draconian law."
If enacted the bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by removing the statutory ban on HIV and extend authority over HIV inadmissibility with the Secretary of HHS.
The bill was hailed by Immigration Equality, an organization which advocates for LGBT immigrants.
"Restricting an individual’s liberty of movement or choice of residence on the grounds of HIV does not protect the public health," said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality.
Limited waivers are available but difficult to obtain and may prompt future exclusion thus discouraging participation.
Last month the White House said new rules would make it easier soon for people with HIV/AIDS to travel to the United States. Democratic lawmakers and gay rights groups are complained that the regulations proposed by the Homeland Security Department could actually create more barriers. (story)
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