HIV-Positive Immigrant Fighting Deportation to Venezuela, Where Life-Saving Medicine is Scarce

A hair stylist in Miami says he is being deported to his death.

The U.S. government has ordered Ricardo Querales to buy a ticket to his home country of Venezuela in two weeks. But because he is HIV-positive, the 43-year-old gay immigrant, who has been in the United States for 15 years, worries he will have no access to the medication he needs to survive.

“I tell to the officer, immigration officer, when he send me to put my [GPS monitoring] bracelet, I said, ‘That’s not right. You’re sending me to death,’” Querales told ABC News

Querales’ lawyer, Marcial De Sautu, says, “obviously, his circumstances are compelling for him to stay in the United States.”

“He has currently an order of removal, and so we are working diligently on preparing what’s called a stay of removal … basically a request to the field director for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) … to ask them to not execute or to not remove him based on humanitarian reasons, in this particular case,” De Sautu told ABC News.

Querales has “a really compelling case, based on his condition,” De Sautu, who specializes in immigration law, said.

“I’ve spoken to many of his treating physicians who have indicated to me that his removal from the United States to Venezuela will put his life in danger,” he added. “So I believe he has a compelling case.”

But Querales’ criminal record is also likely to factor into the case.

Querales, who said he fled Venezuela to escape the late authoritarian President Hugo Chavez, arrived in the United States in 2003 and was granted asylum a year later. He learned he was HIV-positive in 2006.

Three years later, he was convicted for controlled substance possession and drug paraphernalia possession with intent to use in 2009, and later spent six months in detention while in ICE custody related to a different case that included no charges.

By Meghan Kenelly for ABC NEWS
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