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Legislation To Repeal Ban On Immigration Of HIV-Positive People To US

Armen Hareyan's picture

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) last week introduced a bill (HR 3337) that would repeal Congress' 1993 ban on granting permanent status to HIV-positive immigrants and return such authority to the HHS secretary, the Oakland Tribune reports.The measure would require the HHS secretary to re-review the ban onHIV-positive immigrants. It also would allow a 30-day period for publiccomment before the secretary reports to Congress on whether to repealor maintain the ban. Lee has said that she has not gauged support forthe measure but that it will be heard first in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

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According to the Tribune,the HHS secretary prior to the 1993 ban had exclusive authority todetermine which diseases were grounds for excluding prospectiveimmigrants, students, refugees and tourists from entering the U.S.HIV/AIDS in 1987 was added to the list, and HHS secretaries in theGeorge H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations proposed its removalbefore Congress enacted the ban in 1993. HIV-positive people can seek awaiver to the ban if their spouse is a permanent resident and affirmsthat if the applicant becomes ill, he or she will not require publicsupport for HIV/AIDS care, the Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune,under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which stated that the term"spouse" could be applied only to a member of a heterosexual marriage-- members of same-sex couples who are permanent residents cannotsponsor their partners for immigration purposes. The Uniting AmericanFamilies Act (HR 2221, SB 1328),which was introduced on May 8, would allow citizens and legal residentsin same-sex relationships to sponsor their partners for immigrationpurposes, but it is unclear whether the bill will pass, the Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune,same-sex couples with an HIV-positive member currently can ask Housemembers to introduce a "private bill," which would apply only to theindividual named on the bill. Private bills must be approved in theICRSBIL subcommittee and then approved by the House and Senate beforebeing submitted to the president to either be signed into law orvetoed, the Tribune reports (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 8/5).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and signup for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.