HIV-Positive Thai Child Can Remain in U.S. to Appeal Deportation Decision
A federal judge in California has ruled that Phanupong Kaisri, a three-year-old HIV-positive boy from Thailand, can remain in the United States while his lawyers prepare to appeal an order for his deportation, the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian said that Kaisri should remain in the United States during the appeal process because he would receive better medical care here than in his home country. "I'd be giving this kid a death sentence if I sent him back. I'm just not going to do that," Tevrizian said. Kaisri's lawyer, Peter Schey, has argued that "there is no safe home for [Kaisri] in Thailand -- no place where he could be ... assured of adequate medical care" (Texeira, Los Angeles Times, 6/5). But Kaisri's grandparents, who adopted him in Thailand, want him returned home, stating that they are "confident that the boy's medical needs can be met" (Jablon, Associated Press, 6/5). Kaisri came to the United States in April 2000, when he was "used as a pawn in a human trafficking ring" that smuggled other immigrants into the country, the Times reports. Kaisri, who was then "in the throes" of HIV, was given over to social service workers. Hae Jung Cho of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the social group overseeing Kaisri's case, said that the child's viral load has "dropped dramatically so the AIDS virus is no longer detectable in his system," adding that a local family is "prepared" to adopt the boy if he is granted permanent residency in the United States. But officials at the Immigration and Naturalization Service last month rejected Kaisri's application for asylum, stating that the child is "not protected under asylum law because he was not harmed due to his race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group." Kaisri's lawyers plan to appeal the decision (Los Angeles Times, 6/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.