Thai Boy With AIDS Who Was Smuggled Into United States Granted Visa
A four-year-old Thai boy with AIDS who was smuggled into the United States will be among the first to be granted a special T visa and will be allowed to stay in the country for at least three more years, the Los Angeles Times reports. A senior Justice Department official said that the visa for the boy -- who is known as Got -- will be "finalized in a matter of weeks." The T visas were created in 2000 to allow "victims of human trafficking" to remain in the United States if it can be proven that they would be placed under "extreme hardship" if they returned to their place of origin. Got, whose mother is a drug addict and whose father committed suicide shortly after his birth, entered the United States two years ago with two adults who were using him as a "decoy to smuggle a female prostitute into the country." His grandparents have hired a lawyer and plead for his return to Thailand to their custody. However, Evan Smyth and Janet Herold, his U.S. court-appointed guardians, have also filed for custody and are seeking to adopt the boy, claiming that he would face punishment from traffickers and would not receive adequate health care if he returned to Thailand. Got was originally denied asylum, but a judge blocked his deportation and Attorney General John Ashcroft last July granted him temporary asylum. According to Peter Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the T visa can be revoked if INS determines that someone no longer faces danger upon return to his or her native country. "It would probably be hard to find a more qualified applicant [than Got]. He would have faced a wide range of threats to his life, discrimination and persecution had he been returned to Thailand," Schey added. INS attorneys yesterday were expected to inform lawyers for the boy's grandparents and his legal guardians in the United States of the decision. Smyth said the announcement came as a "total surprise," and Herold noted that T visa status "would be a better status [for Got] than he has now." She said the next step would be to apply for permanent residency (Lichtblau/Mohan, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.