Man Returns From Abroad, Challenges U.S. AIDS Ban : Borders: Spaniard with HIV is admitted through customs despite policy against allowing non-citizens who are infected to enter this country.

From Associated Press

A citizen of Spain who has the AIDS virus challenged the U.S. ban on admitting AIDS-infected non-citizens by arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.

Tomas Fabregas, 34, a legal U.S. resident who lives in Oakland, returned from the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on a flight Saturday evening.

Fabregas, who was found to have the human immunodeficiency virus in 1987, was greeted by supporters who held a sign reading "AIDS Knows No Borders."

According to Karen Philis, port director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Fabregas went through customs and immigration without incident, although she declined to comment on the process.

Philis said immigration officials did not question Fabregas about his HIV status, and Fabregas "didn't make it an issue of having AIDS."

Fabregas announced at the Amsterdam conference last week that he was challenging the U.S. ban on admitting those who are infected with HIV or have AIDS. The ban was enacted by President Bush.

David Ilchert, director of the San Francisco district immigration office, said Fabregas could have been allowed to re-enter the United States because his trip could be regarded as a "casual departure," meaning that as a legal resident, he cannot be barred from re-entry.

Fabregas' attorney, Ignatius Bau, said his client could still face proceedings to revoke his residency.

"If he is successful in coming in, he makes the point that he's not a public health threat," Bau said before Fabregas landed. "And if he's not a threat, how can they say that the immigrant with AIDS behind him in line is a public health threat?"

It was unclear what action the INS might take, if any.

After Fabregas passed through customs, he was greeted by about 40 cheering supporters. "George Bush, I am home," he said.

Fabregas said he believed that his action was necessary to fight not only the ban but also discrimination against people with HIV.

"The only intent of this politically inspired exclusion is to discriminate, harass and punish people living with HIV," Fabregas said.

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