Senate to HIV-Positive Immigrants: Go Home!

New America Media, Commentary, Adam Francoeur Posted: Sep 21, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you think current immigration restrictions against HIV-positive would-be immigrants are harsh, wait till you see what Senate Bill 2611 wants to do, writes Adam Francoeur, policy coordinator of Immigration Equality.

NEW YORK -- People living with HIV are banned from entering the United States. If you apply for a green card, you’ll be tested. If that test proves positive, your application will be denied and you’ll be deported, unless you meet the stringent requirements for an HIV waiver.

These are the harsh realities awaiting HIV-positive immigrants in the United States and those seeking to come here. There are currently waiver opportunities for some individuals who have qualifying family members, but simply having a family member doesn’t guarantee the waiver will be granted. The Senate bill (S.2611) proposes several new provisions that seek to punish further HIV-positive immigrants.

The undocumented population and all guest workers, the supposed beneficiaries of the Senate proposal, are to be tested en masse for HIV. If an individual tests positive, he or she would be denied a visa and deported. Normally, relatives such as spouses, children, and parents could serve as the basis for an HIV waiver application, but the Senate bill proposes an end to all health-related waivers for guest workers and the undocumented population. Meaning, they will be treated literally worse than criminals who will have access to some waivers. This proposal portends more hardships and policy failure for the HIV-positive immigrant community.

The most common arguments favored by those who support health exclusions center on the protection of the public health and public funds. In reality the denial of all health-related waivers is anathema in many ways to the central goals of U.S. immigration policy. One of these goals is the preservation of family unity. According to the Government Accountability Office, 65 percent of all “green card” applications are based on family relationships. Denying waivers to people who have a health concern separates sick individuals from those who can best care for them, their families.

Another justification for the HIV ban is safeguarding the public health. Instead of protecting the HIV-positive and negative populations, denying health-related waivers diminishes the likelihood of treatment for individuals with HIV/AIDS, and scapegoats immigrants for the further spread of HIV. Eliminating health waivers discourages HIV status disclosure, putting public health at risk by driving underground people living with HIV. Being “underground” and living with HIV usually means ineffective treatment and a lack of counseling about how HIV/AIDS is spread. It doesn’t take an incredible intellectual leap to understand how this could drive up domestic infection rates.

Likewise, those who argue against admitting HIV-positive individuals cite the expense of treating people with HIV. The economic argument makes little more sense: individuals require health care to obtain waivers. By denying HIV-positive immigrants waivers, the Senate will push individuals who have viable job offers and health insurance into the shadows. Individuals without the ability to obtain health insurance are more likely to rely on costly and ineffective emergency medical care and drive up health care costs for all.

While it now appears that comprehensive immigration reform is on the shelf until the next Congress, those who care about positive immigration reform should give pause and regroup because we need to produce a better bill when the next Congress convenes. While there was never much hope for positive reform of the current HIV immigration policy, few expected a proposal to eliminate all health waivers. There’s a better way and it begins with recognizing the value of health waivers.

See Related Commentary

Immigration Matters

Page 1 of 1

Share/Save/Bookmark

User Comments


MS VILLALPANDO on Oct 21, 2006 at 11:04:26 said:

PEOPLE FROM MY DADS HOMETOWN IN MEXICO THAT HAVE CANCER ARE HERE IN THE USA. WHY? FREE MEDICAL IMMIGRANTS DO NOT PAY MEDICAL BILLS HERE. SEPARATING FAMILIES WHY COME HERE IF YOU ARE AN ILLEGAL. DO NOT CROSS THE BORDER WITH YOUR WHOLR FAMILY IF YOU ARE ILLEGAL .THAT VERY IRRESPONSIBLE
THEY COME HERE BECAUSE THEY ARE SICK, IN MEXICO THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT PAY YOUR BILLS


C.M. on Oct 17, 2006 at 17:07:31 said:

Well, well, ignorance pays off. To understand the issue you need to educate yourself, before you post a hateful message. First, you and all \'legals\' in this country benefit from \'illegals\', how do you think you can afford cheap produce at the supermarket, among other things? In any case, the issue of illegal immigration is more complex than whatever you can say, why do you think it has never been resolved? It is a political vendetta. Illegals do NOT have benefits, yet they contribute to our economy. A vast number of those illegals also pay medicare and social security (not to mention taxes) and YET they cannot use any of the benefits those health systems provide, in fact, only citizens and permanent residents will ever enjoy those benefits (not even \'legals\' in the form of non-immigrant workes have any kind of health benefits). Now, where do you get the idea that illegals get better treatment? I bet you cannot even say, or you are just repeating the inflated comments of irresponsible newscasters that make disproportionate comments arising from isolated incidents? why don\'t they talk about the \'immense\' number of americans that do not pay their medical bills? do you think the percentage of unpaid medical bills from illegals are the ones sinking the health care system? do you really think that the SSA is drowing because of illegals? Think again.


Wolfgang Schmitt on Sep 28, 2006 at 11:08:34 said:

Kevin, did you even READ this article?! It would also apply to millions of immigrants who have entered this country legally, probably having good jobs and health insurance and also would stop HIV positive travellers from spending their dollars in this country to boost our economy.Go educate yourself about issues before making comments out of the blue because of some prejudices you hold!


Kevin P. Flaws on Sep 23, 2006 at 16:40:55 said:

I don't want a penny of my tax dollars to go to providing free medical attention for any disease to anyone who has intered into this country illegally. Are you absolutley crazy? Why don't you invite them into your home and your neighborhood and add them to your insurance policy? Why don't you take your big heart and exp[lain to the suffering citizens why the ILLEGALS get beter treatment and amnesty for their transgressions? Why don't you jsut take them back to their homeland yourself and stay their with them?

-->




Advertisement


ADVERTISEMENT


Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Immigration

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisements on our website do not necessarily reflect the views or mission of New America Media, our affiliates or our funders.