November 2, 2009
Washington, DC – Today, the Administration took the final step in lifting the 22-year ban on travel and immigration by HIV-positive individuals by publishing the final rule to remove the ban in the Federal Register.
Last Friday, the President signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 into law and announced the end of the rule-making process for lifting the ban. Today’s publication of the rule will follow the standard 60-day waiting period until its implementation.
NAPAWF applauds the Obama Administration for removing a decades-long restriction that the President described as “rooted in fear rather than fact.” A ban on travel and immigration to the U.S. by individuals with HIV was first established during the Reagan-era and then given Congressional support when Sen. Jesse Helms added HIV to the travel-exclusion list in 1987. The U.S. was one of only 7 countries with laws that bar the entry of people with HIV.
Last year, NAPAWF supported the effort led by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) to overturn the ban as part of reauthorizing legislation for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which President Bush signed into law on July 30, 2008. In its role as co-chair of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, NAPAWF also submitted comments in support of the Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule to remove HIV from the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance” last August.
“We commend the President and his Administration for ending this discriminatory policy that separated families and stigmatized HIV-positive individuals,” said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. “We look forward to working with the Obama Administration to ensure that our immigration laws continue to promote family unity and fairness in the coming months as Congress begins to address immigration reform.