HIV Advocates to 2020 Presidential Candidates: Family Separation Based on HIV, Immigration Status Must End Now
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July 26, 2019

Jennifer Johnson-Avril, Housing Works 646-732-1573
Naina Khanna, Positive Women’s Network-USA 510-681-1169
Sean Strub, Sero Project 646-642-4915

During a Congressional hearing on Thursday July 25, 2019, Chief Brian Hastings of the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) casually explained to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) that CBP separates families at the border based on HIV status. Indeed, according to reporting from Quartz, three sisters, ages 11, 12, and 14, were permanently separated from their father in November, 2018, after they crossed the border from Honduras seeking asylum, because he was living with HIV (their mother had previously died of AIDS).

The Trump administration’s endless campaign of terror targeting the most vulnerable people in our country continues. There is no legal, medical, or ethical justification for separating families based on HIV status, let alone ripping families apart and traumatizing children in the process. In June 2018, a federal judge ordered an end to the administration’s barbaric family separation policy, yet when HIV is involved, the policy continues.

As a coalition of organizations led by people living with and impacted by HIV, we are crystal clear: separating immigrant families based on HIV status is another flagrant excuse to violate the human rights of people fleeing violence, oppression, and grinding poverty, in order to further this administration’s white supremacist and xenophobic political agenda.

Because HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, it was removed from the list of communicable diseases barring entry to the United States in 2010. Now, nearly a decade later, the CBP is ignoring not only the policy change, but also the underlying science.

HIV does not in any way affect the fitness of a parent; indeed, people living with HIV not only have and raise their own children but are also foster and adoptive parents.

Dehumanizing, abusing, and traumatizing vulnerable people for political gain is the Trump administration’s cruelest currency. U.S. and international law establishes the right to seek asylum. As human rights advocates, we refuse to sit idly by while families are torn apart; children and adults abused, tortured, and denied necessary medical care; and people detained in concentration camps and deported without due process or legal representation.

We demand an immediate end to family separations; we demand that the concentration camps close immediately; and we demand that human rights for all, regardless of immigration or HIV status, be protected and defended, not abused and denied, by all representatives of the U.S. government.

We call on all 2020 presidential candidates to immediately and explicitly commit to these demands.

A Family Affair
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania
AIDS United
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
Bailey House, Inc.
Black AIDS Institute
Chicago Women's AIDS Project
CORA- Colorado Organizations and Individuals Responding to HIV/AIDS
Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN)
Desiree Alliance
Equality Ohio
HIV Justice Network
HIV Modernization Movement-Indiana
Housing Works
Ingham Community Health Centers
International Rectal Microbicide Advocates
Lets Kick ASS - AIDS Survivor Syndrome
Louisiana Coalition on Criminalization and Health
Minority Health Consultants
Mississippi Positive Network
Missouri HIV Justice Coalition
MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights
My Positive Life
National Working Positive Coalition
New York City AIDS Memorial
New York Immigration Coalition
Positive Iowans Taking Charge
Positive Women’s Network
Prevention Access Campaign
PWN-Greater Houston
Rise Up to HIV
Sero Project
SWOP Behind Bars
The Well Project
Triangle Transitions Housing
Women’s HIV Program, University of California, San Francisco

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