The Obama administration will no longer ban immigrants with three sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial infections from entering the country, the Center for Immigration Studies noted.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced the rule Jan. 26, and it goes into effect on March 28.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, within HHS, decided to remove chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum from the list of inadmissible diseases for an immigrant seeking to enter the country. The Obama administration estimates that the change would not cost more than $100 million.
In President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the Department of Health and Human Services decided that HIV was no longer a “communicable disease of public health significance.”
This is significant as in 1993 Congress passed a law that stated: “Any alien who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to have a communicable disease of public health significance, which shall include infection with the etiologic agent for acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS] … is inadmissible.”
Since that ruling, HHS estimates that anywhere from 1,073 to 6,409 HIV-infected aliens are given legal permanent residency every year. This estimate does not include those who have illegally crossed the border or overstayed their visas.
“Potential for onward transmission of these infections to the U.S. population is deemed to be extremely low,” HHS wrote in announcing the rule change. “While we do not have country or region-specific rates for these diseases, our review of the literature supports the supposition that the potential introduction of additional cases into the United States by aliens is likely to have a negligible impact on the U.S. population.”
“These primarily tropical infections can be prevented through improved personal hygiene (11) and protected sex (use of a condom),” HHS continued. “New infections can be effectively treated and cured with a short, uncomplicated course of antibiotic therapy.”
HHS even argued that the change is positive, saying doctors, “will be able to devote more time and training to other, more common and/or more serious health issues.
The U.S. has the highest rate of HIV infection of any developed nation. More than 1.2 million people in this country are HIV positive.
In that same Jan. 26 ruling, the Obama administration changed tuberculosis testing requirements for aliens wishing to enter the country. Previously all applicants were subject to a chest x-ray, “and for whom the radiograph shows an abnormality suggestive of tuberculosis disease, shall be required to undergo additional testing for tuberculosis.”
The new rule change dropped the “shall” requirement, saying the applicants now “may be required” to get further testing for tuberculosis.