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Amicus brief to the Board of Immigration Appeals in support of Jose Luis Ramirez, an HIV-positive immigrant contesting an Immigration Judge’s deportation order.

Lambda Legal and the HIV Law Project submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of several organizations that advocate for people living with HIV asking the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to overturn an Immigration Judge’s ruling ordering the deportation of an HIV-positive immigrant convicted of solicitation for oral sex.  The case, In the Matter of Ramirez, concerns Jose Luis Ramirez, a gay immigrant living with HIV who in 2006 qualified for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act because of the repeated abuse he previously suffered at the hands of police officers in Mexico. Subsequently, Ramirez was arrested in the United States and charged with solicitation after agreeing to perform oral sex on an undercover police officer in exchange for money.  In 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought to terminate his withholding of removal, alleging that Ramirez’s HIV status elevated his solicitation conviction to the level of a “particularly serious crime.”  The Immigration Judge agreed and ordered Ramirez’s deportation.

The Lambda Legal/HIV Law Project brief – submitted on behalf of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association), the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation – cited a number of studies concluding that there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission as a result of an HIV-positive person performing oral sex and demonstrating the highly unlikely occurrence of such a transmission.  The brief also argued that the Immigration Judge overestimated the lethality of HIV, which is more and more considered a chronic, manageable condition for people who learn of their status in a timely fashion and are provided with access to quality care and treatment.  As a result, the brief argued, Ramirez’s solicitation conviction does not constitute a “particularly serious crime” and should not result in the termination of his withholding of removal.