Hernan Rozemberg writes in the San Antonio News:
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.[U.S. acts to open borders to foreigners with HIV, August 10, 2008]
Now what has been happening here in part :
The Family Focused AIDS Clinical Treatment and Services, a 2,000-patient clinic in San Antonio, offers services to anyone diagnosed with HIV whether they're in the country legally or not, said its director, Tracy Talley.
So immigrants, particularly from Mexico, have made their way across the border for years just to get treatment unavailable back home, Talley said.
I think we need regional cooperation to contain AIDS and other infectious diseases. The fact this wasn't dealt with as part of NAFTA tells us just how ill-conceived that treaty was.
I'd be willing to consider fairly loose travel regulations with countries that have good public health measures, population growth rates comparable to the US and reasonable economies(i.e. Japan and the EU). Loose travel and immigration policies with other countries is simply a formula for oppressing US workers and enriching the wealthy interests that operate in the US.
If the concern is helping people with AIDS, more people would be better off auctioning off these immigration rights and using the funds to provide aid to the most truly needy in those countries impacted by AIDS—or setting up a valid R&D prize fund to look for an actual cure (Socialist Bernie Saunders has been proposing replacing drug patents in general with prize awards—which would help this situation internationally particularly if other developed countries joined in).
I can't help wondering just how many Americans might be alive today if the US hadn't opened up its borders during the 60's to immigration from countries with poor public health and low levels of economic development—including many countries that have much higher rates of AIDS infection than the US. I suspect that if the immigration expansion of the 60's had never happened, there would be tens of thousands of Americans alive today that are now dead.