Friday, October 03, 2008

What's The Point Of A Congressional Mandate?

The Department of Homeland Security announces "streamlined" waiver applications for HIV+ travelers wishing to enter the US. This despite a congressional order to remove HIV as a barrier to travel.

- via Immigration Equality:

Three months after Congress voted to repeal the ban on HIV-positive travelers to the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced yesterday that it has issued regulations which purport to “streamline” the waiver application process for HIV-positive short-term visitors. The move comes nearly two years after President Bush directed the agency to streamline the process and fails to follow Congress’ mandate to end the ban.

.The timing of these regulations is deeply troubling.

.In July, Congress issued a bipartisan message to this Administration – remove HIV as a barrier to travel and immigration. Instead of simply ending the HIV travel ban, the administration is again treating HIV differently from any other medical condition.

.Under the new rules, a short-term traveler must meet twelve stringent criteria that impose unnecessary burdens on HIV-positive travelers and continue to stigmatize those living with HIV. Some criteria are inconsistent with current medical knowledge of HIV transmission and treatment.

.Additionally, a traveler who avails him- or herself of the waiver must give up the right to apply for a green card from within the United States – even if he or she marries a U.S. citizen. By DHS’s own account, the “streamlining” provided by this rule simply shaves off eighteen days in processing time by allowing Department of State consular officers to make decisions on waivers without sending them to DHS for approval.

.We are on the eve of lifting this ban once and for all. Why is the Administration setting new waiver requirements in stone now? The time has come for this Administration to finish the job that Congress started this summer. It’s time to lift the HIV ban.

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