As Congress considers repealing the ban on foreign travelers with HIV from entering the United States, a Canadian man reports an encounter with border agents last November.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next month on a bill proposed by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry that would lift what he calls a Draconian travel ban that has caused thousands of Canadians and other foreigners to be refused entry to the United States because they have the virus that causes AIDS. Martin Rooney is among them.
The Surrey, B.C., man was on his way to Bellingham, Wash., for the Remembrance Day long weekend last November to shop, with the Canadian dollar trading at about $1.07 against the greenback. After lining up for four hours to reach the U.S. customs booth, he was asked where he worked. “I said I was on disability. He said what’s my disability. I said I have HIV,” said the 47-year-old, who was diagnosed in 1989.
The customs officer told him he needed a special visa waiver to enter the country, even though Canadians do not require a visa to travel to the United States. “He hauled me into a backroom. … He put on a set of rubber gloves to hold each of my fingers. Nobody else wore rubber gloves. Then he fingerprinted me, photographed me, ran me through the FBI’s most-wanted list and told me to go back to Canada and not return until I came back with a waiver,” Mr. Rooney said. “I felt like I was being treated like a terrorist.”
He went public with his story soon after, winning the support of several B.C. members of Parliament, including Hedy Fry, Penny Priddy and Bill Siksay. The United States is one of 13 nations, including China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, that still ban HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.
(Via – Globe And Mail)