U.S. Immigration Reform: July 2008 Archives

The migrant-rights organization Immigration Equality scored a major victory today in ushering through the Senate a repeal of the HIV immigration and travel ban.  From Immigration Equality's press release (I'll post the link as soon as it goes up on their website) (Update: here it is):

Immigration Equality hails the Senate's vote to lift the HIV immigration and travel ban.  The Senate voted today to repeal the language that bars people with HIV/AIDS from entering the U.S., as part of the legislation reauthorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  The Senate approved PEPFAR by a vote of 80 to 16.

"Congress has finally moved to end the HIV ban - a ban based on myth and misinformation," said Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality.  "For twenty years, the United States has barred HIV-positive travelers from entering the country even for one day.  Today the Senate said loud and clear that AIDS exceptionalism must come to an end." 

HIV is the only disease excluded by Congressional fiat; all other decisions on communicable diseases are left to the discretion of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The repeal provision in the PEPFAR bill will remove the anti-HIV language from the Immigration and Nationality Act, and restore the determination of whether HIV is "communicable disease of public health significance," to the discretion of HHS.

Important Update: Note that the bill has not yet become law, so the waiver requirement is still in place until it does.  From Immigration Equality's website:

The Senate's version of PEPFAR has not yet become law.  Right now, if you are HIV positive and planning to travel to the U.S. or planning to apply for legal permanent residence status you must still obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.  For more information on HIV Waivers please read this section of our website.

Second Update: It's been a while since I linked to Andrew Sullivan, but take a moment to read his moving post about what the repeal means to him (via). 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's one of the happiest days of my whole life. For two and a half decades, I have longed to be a citizen of the country I love and have made my home. I now can. There is no greater feeling.

And I should also note that one of the co-sponsors of the bill was Gordon Smith (R-OR), a prominent Mormon in good standing in the faith.  I hope that the era of reflexive alignment of religious conservatives with anti-gay politics is coming to an end (I say "anti-gay" on the premise that the HIV ban had its roots in animus against the LGBT community).

[End updates]

In a post I wrote earlier today, I made my thoughts about this "flip-flop" narrative known.  This is a happy day for migrant youth.  Today, a courageous member of One Dream 2009 got Senator McCain to say he supports the DREAM Act.

The Democrats have put out a video documenting the flip-flop(sombrero tip to Todd at MyDD who has been covering this with me):