U.S. Attorney General Should Allow Deported Man To Return to U.S. To Care for HIV-Positive Boy, Editorial Says
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft should "ease the ... misery" of an HIV-positive 11-year-old boy in California by allowing his legal guardian -- an illegal immigrant who was deported to Mexico in June -- to return to the United States "on humanitarian grounds, employing a small exemption in the immigration law that was crafted for situations like this," a Los Angeles Times editorial says (Los Angeles Times, 7/30). Orange County Juvenile Court Judge Gary Bischoff last week told immigration officials that Hermenegildo Ortega should be allowed to stay in the United States to care for the boy and his daughter, who are now in a group foster home. After the death of Carolina Barajas, the children's mother with whom Ortega had a common-law marriage, Ortega became the boy's legal guardian and lived in the United States illegally until being deported. Ortega said that he did not want to take the children back to Mexico because access to HIV treatment and care there is limited. Mexican Consul Luis Miguel Ortiz Haro has said that he plans to use Bischoff's recommendation to secure humanitarian parole for Ortega, a designation that would enable Ortega to stay in the country so that the boy can continue to receive HIV treatment in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection will decide if Ortega can remain in the United States. The juvenile court on Aug. 6 will decide whether to allow Ortega to retain legal custody of the boy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/23). The editorial says that Ashcroft does not have to "settle the tough question" of whether Ortega should stay in the United States because "immigration law states that those admitted for humanitarian reasons don't automatically qualify for permanent residence." The Times concludes, "Right now, the best medicine for an ill boy is having his 'papa' with him" (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.