The United States Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) has revealed it is targeting asylum seekers that have HIV under the Trump Administration’s controversial family separation policy, in contradiction to established federal immigration policies and US Centres for Disease Control guidelines.
On July 25th at a US House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, Custom and Border Patrol chief Brian Hastings confirmed to Democratic Party Representative Jamie Raskin that HIV status is being used as a criterion to separate families at the border under questioning.
According to a report by Quartz, three sisters, ages 11, 12, and 14, were separated in detention from their single father because he is living with HIV.
The man and his three daughters crossed the US border after fleeing from Honduras in November 2018. Their mother had already died of AIDS in Honduras.
Despite a 2010 policy put in place by US Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Obama Administration that removed HIV from the list of communicable diseases that bar immigrants from entry to the US, and subsequent confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control that HIV is not a communicable disease of public health significance for the purpose of US immigration, Hastings asserted that HIV could be used as a reason to separate family members in immigration detention.
MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights has criticised this policy under the Trump Administration.
“MPact, in solidarity with networks of HIV advocates in the US, strongly condemns the actions of Custom and Border Patrol, demands an immediate end to family separation, and for immediate closure of [these] concentration camps,” the group said in a statement.
“Human rights must be respected and protected for all, particularly immigrants and people living with and affected by HIV.”
The group has called for next year’s international AIDS conference to be relocated to outside of the US because of the Trump Administration’s policy in this area.
“In light of this and many other human rights violations in the United States under the Trump Administration, MPact cannot support the AIDS2020 conference to take place in San Francisco and Oakland,” MPact said.
“In close partnership with advocates around the world, we are are instead organizing HIV2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response in Mexico City to offer a safe space for those who cannot or will not enter the US for AIDS2020.”
MPact say their conference aims to offer new opportunities to reaffirm the leading role communities can and should play in the global fight for sexual health and human rights.