Several leading HIV community organizations have released harsh rebukes in response to an announcement by President Trump on Sept. 5 that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program within six months. The program, which allows some children of undocumented U.S. immigrants to legally remain in the country, affects roughly 800,000 children and young adults. Some HIV organizations have expressed alarm that the decision to end DACA could severely impair access to HIV prevention and testing services for those affected, as well as access to health care and other needs.
Following are excerpts from statements released by major HIV organizations, as well as other leaders within the HIV community and the political realm. We will continue to add to this story as further statements are released.
Advocacy and Service Organization Reactions
From Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven:
Taking DACA away will push generations of talent and promise into the shadows and destroy families and communities by turning good and hardworking people into criminals overnight to be hunted, incarcerated and deported.
Ripping human beings away from their families and the only home they know to drop them in countries that are a faint memory, at best, is barbaric.
From Human Rights Campaign:
It is estimated that approximately 75,000 of these "Dreamers" are LGBTQ, and HRC has endorsed the 2017 DREAM Act (H.R.3440/S.1615), which was introduced in Congress in July to explicitly authorize the government to stop the deportation of Dreamers. HRC has also signed on to a letter in support of Dreamers, which was signed by over 1,850 governors, state and municipal officials, civil organizations and faith leaders.
"This is yet another hateful decision by the Trump-Pence Administration," said Alejandro Avilés, HRC's Director of Outreach and Engagement. "A White House that has pardoned human rights violators like Joe Arpaio and espoused racism and white nationalism has now decided that hundreds of thousands of young people - many of whom have never known a home outside the U.S. -- are no longer welcome here. Students, with bright futures ahead of them, ready to help make our country truly great, will be sent back to places they don't remember, breaking families apart and setting our country back immeasurably."
"To punish young people who know no country other than the United States by deporting them to countries to which they have no connection, simply because their parents brought them to the U.S. when they were small children, is both cruel and against the American values our country stands for," said Kelsey Louie, CEO of GMHC.
"At GMHC, we stand with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as they call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act to grant young 'Dreamers' a path to quick citizenship in exchange for serving in the military, working lawfully for at least three years, or enrolling in higher education. This win-win solution is the only fair path forward to resolving this unfortunate situation."
From AIDS Healthcare Foundation:
[AHF] today warned that an unintended consequence of White House plans to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that allowed young undocumented immigrants to live, study and work in the country without fear of deportation, is that it will likely discourage at-risk youth -- both in and outside of the DACA program -- from seeking out and accessing critical HIV and STD prevention and testing services as well as STD treatment programs, when needed.
"There is no question that STDs are at record rates in many places across the nation today. At a time when we should be working together to do everything we can to make HIV and STD prevention, testing and treatment services easily available, ending DACA will put a chill in the willingness of young people to seek out and access these services," added Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Regardless of what Congress ultimately does with DACA, we must continue to find new and more effective ways to reach vulnerable, at-risk populations with such crucial public health services."
From Positive Women's Network - USA:
Our fight to protect immigrant safety, rights and dignity begins today and will continue every single day. We will not stand by while immigrants are torn from their families, their loved ones, and their lives. Every member of Congress must commit to protect immigrants.
- Get to your nearest #DefendDACA rally TODAY to show your support: www.defenddaca.org. Visibility matters. We have to show a strong base of support for immigrants and it starts now.
- Call your Senators and Representative:
- Let them know that you are their constituent, you support DACA and will fight to protect it.
- Ask them to support a legislative solution that will permanently protect DREAMers from deportation.
- Ask them to commit to cosponsor the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill which was re-introduced by Sens Dick Durban (D-IL) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) in July.
- Call your Representatives:
- Let them know that you are their constituent, you support DACA, and will fight to protect it.
- Ask that they support a legislative solution that will permanently protect DREAMers from deportation.
- Ask them to support the House companion bill to the DREAM Act, filed in the House by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA.
- Learn about the expanded sanctuary movement using these great resources from Mijente so you can get more involved. Sanctuary spaces (campuses, cities, states, clinics) are those which refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement.
- Let immigrants know you have their back. Put out your own organizational statement and call to action. Check in with folks about how they're feeling. We are in this together.
From Student Global AIDS Campaign:
From National LGBTQ Task Force:
From The HIV League:
From Western North Carolina AIDS Project:
From UCLA HIV Counseling and Testing Coalition:
Community Member Reactions
From Prevention Access Campaign founder Bruce Richman:
From HIV activist Maria Mejia:
From PWN-USA Steering Committee member Barb Cardell:
From community educator Marco Castro-Bojorquez:
Political Figure Reactions
From former President Barack Obama:
From former Vice President Joe Biden:
From former California Senator Kamala Harris:
From former Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:
Myles Helfand is the editorial director of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com. Follow Myles on Twitter: @MylesatTheBody.
Ken Stockwell is senior web producer for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.