Policy & Politics

Rep. Lee Introduces Legislation to Repeal Ban on Immigration of HIV-Positive People to U.S.

August 7, 2007

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) last week introduced a bill (HR 3337) that would repeal Congress' 1993 ban on granting permanent status to HIV-positive immigrants and return such authority to the HHS secretary, the Oakland Tribune reports. The measure would require the HHS secretary to re-review the ban on HIV-positive immigrants. It also would allow a 30-day period for public comment before the secretary reports to Congress on whether to repeal or maintain the ban. Lee has said that she has not gauged support for the measure but that it will be heard first in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

According to the Tribune, the HHS secretary prior to the 1993 ban had exclusive authority to determine which diseases were grounds for excluding prospective immigrants, students, refugees and tourists from entering the U.S. HIV/AIDS in 1987 was added to the list, and HHS secretaries in the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations proposed its removal before Congress enacted the ban in 1993. HIV-positive people can seek a waiver to the ban if their spouse is a permanent resident and affirms that if the applicant becomes ill, he or she will not require public support for HIV/AIDS care, the Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune, under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which stated that the term "spouse" could be applied only to a member of a heterosexual marriage -- members of same-sex couples who are permanent residents cannot sponsor their partners for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act (HR 2221, SB 1328), which was introduced on May 8, would allow citizens and legal residents in same-sex relationships to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes, but it is unclear whether the bill will pass, the Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune, same-sex couples with an HIV-positive member currently can ask House members to introduce a "private bill," which would apply only to the individual named on the bill. Private bills must be approved in the ICRSBIL subcommittee and then approved by the House and Senate before being submitted to the president to either be signed into law or vetoed, the Tribune reports (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 8/5).

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Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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