A Customs & Border Patrol official under the Trump administration says that they’ve been splitting up families and using HIV status to justify it.
Brian Hastings is the chief of Customs & Border Patrol, and he recently went to Capitol Hill to be questioned at a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. While there, Rep. Jamie Raskins (D-MD) asked the official about the department’s policy on separating parents from children.
“What’s being done to prevent mistakes from being the basis for decisions [to separate]?” asked Raskins
“As I said earlier, separation is not taken lightly. We run every check. Make sure to the best of our ability that we can, by running all criminal records check. Working with other entities. Sometimes even foreign law enforcement offices. To make sure that everything we’re told is true and correct. And to the best of our due diligence, to make sure that we’re doing things properly,” responded Hastings.
Raskin then asked, “If a mother or father has an HIV positive status, is that alone enough to justify separation from their child?”
To which Hastings replied, “It is because it’s a communicable disease under the guidance.”
“We have reports of kids being separated from their parents on that basis, furthered Raskin. Is that what we mean by communicable disease? It’s not communicable from contact.”
“That’s the guidance that we follow,” Hastings simply stated.
Raskin then returned with, “And that came from your legal counsel or that came from border control or where did that come from?”
“I’m not sure if that came from legal counsel,” confessed Hastings. “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 then followed up with, “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,” said Hastings.
This is discrimination. This is wrong. https://t.co/ev2B2ircjS
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 25, 2019
News of this policy to separate families due to HIV status has disgusted health officials and human rights activists.
“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.”
Not only has HIV not been considered a communicable disease since 2010, but Hasting’s testimony contradicts that of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, according to the Washington Blade. McAleenan stated that HIV status alone wasn’t an important factor for family separation.
To the surprise of no one, it looks like Border Patrol is making up its own rules and changing them when they see fit.