The Trump administration is using HIV status as a reason to justify family separations at the border, according to remarks made by Brian Hastings, chief of Customs & Border Patrol.
Hastings was being questioned by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Thursday.
Asked Raskin: “If a mother or father has an HIV positive status, is that alone enough to justify separation from their child?”
Replied Hastings: “It is because it’s a communicable disease under the guidance.”
Said Raskin: “We have reports of kids being separated from their parents on that basis. Is that what we mean by communicable disease? It’s not communicable from contact.”
Replied Hastings: “That’s the guidance that we follow.”
Replied Raskin “And that came from your legal counsel or that came from border control or where did that come from?”
Said Hastings: “I’m not sure if that came from legal counsel. I believe that is defined as a communicable disease.”
“Do you have a list of the communicable diseases?” asked Raskin.
“Not with me, sir, no,” replied Hastings.
Raskin continued: “I mean the flu is communicable. Would we separate parents from their kids if a mom or dad had the flu?”
“We’re not, sir.”
The Washington Blade reports: ‘Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, said the policy makes no sense because HIV “has not been considered a communicable disease of public health significance since 2010.” “We are appalled to learn that the U.S. government is again stigmatizing immigrants living with HIV,” Morris added. “Separating children from their parents because they are HIV-positive deeply misunderstands basic public health and will irreparably harm families and children.” Hastings’ testimony directly contradicts congressional testimony last week from acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who said HIV status alone wasn’t a determining factor for family separation.’