US Immigration Policy. Now With More AIDS

One of the biggest problems with our government today is there are so many people, who want to do so many things that defy all common sense, that incredibly stupid ideas can become law without ever hitting the public’s radar. For example,

After more than two decades on the books, a little-known yet strictly enforced federal law barring foreigners with HIV or AIDS from entering the country is on its way out.

Tucked in a bill pledging $48 billion to combat the disease, signed into law by President Bush last week, was language stripping the provision from federal immigration law.

But that change didn’t fully lift the entry ban on visitors with HIV or AIDS, which applies whether they’re on tourist jaunts or seeking longer stays. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services still needs to delete HIV from the agency’s list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” which includes tuberculosis, gonorrhea and leprosy.

An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment, noting administrators are still reviewing the new law. An April report from the Congressional Budget Office said that, based on information from HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV will be dropped from the list and new regulations will be in place in two years.

Both immigrant and HIV awareness advocates, however, say the toughest hurdle has been cleared, that the lifting of the immigration provision has been a long time coming — politics finally catching up with medical knowledge.

“Today everyone knows that you can’t get AIDS from sitting next to someone on an airplane or sharing a bathroom — American policy should reflect this,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality, a New York-based advocacy group that has led a years-long campaign against the ban.

In San Antonio, people in the HIV/AIDS community welcomed the new law, but noted that plenty of people here had already circumvented the travel ban, since the area has been a long-standing destination for unauthorized immigrants.

Jan Patterson, an infectious disease specialist in San Antonio, agreed that the ban has no scientific underpinning.

When HIV first surfaced, researchers didn’t know how it was transmitted, but it has long been widely known that HIV is not easily contracted and that even people with full-blown AIDS can live for a long time, said Patterson, who has taught for 15 years at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Let me tell you what more immigrants with AIDS coming to America means: it means more Americans getting AIDS from them and more American tax dollars being used to treat them.

Yes, it is correct that nobody is going to get AIDS from sitting beside of someone who has it in an airplane, but they can unknowingly get it from them by having sex with them or sharing a needle — and just wait, because eventually, some immigrant with AIDS will get into the gay scene in San Francisco or hook up with a bunch of heroin addicts in Berkeley and they’ll end up being the source of hundreds of infections. Then, the media will report it — or maybe they won’t, remember John Edwards — and then what? What do you say to the families of the people who get AIDS from an immigrant because of this policy? Sorry your daughter has a death sentence hanging over her head, but we didn’t want to hurt the feelings of Brazilians with AIDS?

The problem here is that the politicians have gotten so caught up in political correctness and have forgotten the very first rule of immigrant policy: that is, the purpose of allowing immigrants into the United States in the first place is to benefit the people who are already here.

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