Trump Policies Snag First HIV-Positive Gay Asylum Seeker

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Trump Policies Snag First HIV-Positive Gay Asylum Seeker
by Hank Trout

Denis Davydov

Denis Davydov, a native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, came to the United States from Moscow in September 2014 on a six-month tourist visa. He has been living and working in San Jose, California, since then, as he completes the process for obtaining political asylum in the U.S. He never suspected when he flew to the U.S. Virgin Islands on March 6, 2017, for a weeklong vacation that he would be detained at the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, Florida, upon his return on March 13.

Denis has now been detained for more than a month—he spent his thirtieth birthday in the ICE detention center.

Denis’s is no ordinary detention case. Denis is an HIV-positive gay man, a member of rights group RUSA LGBT, who has followed every rule and regulation regarding applications for political asylum. According to RUSA LGBT, “Denis has complied with all USCIS guidelines and filed for an affirmative asylum within a one-year deadline. He was awaiting his asylum interview, had a valid employment authorization and A-number, and had no criminal record.”

His is the first detention of an HIV-positive gay asylum-seeker under the new, draconian Trump Administration policies on immigration. His detention is especially heinous because it threatens his health as an HIV-positive man.

The reasons Denis is seeking political asylum in the U.S. are very clear. Ever since the Russian parliament, the Duma, passed a vehemently anti-LGBT law in 2013, Russia’s LGBT community has faced the threat and the actuality of physical violence from gangs of vigilantes and skinheads—even members of the Duma themselves have appeared at anti-LGBT rallies and engaged in the violence!

According to the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), “Earlier this month [April 2017], the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 men suspected of being gay have been arbitrarily detained and tortured in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Three deaths have been reported, and the Russian LGBT Network and other sources on the ground continue to report about detainees being coerced to reveal the identities of other gay and bisexual men.”

The MSMGF went on to say, “Gay men who are released from detention [are] at risk of so-called ‘honor killings’ by family members, while local authorities deny the existence of gay people and national authorities are indifferent. Journalists who broke the story at Novaya Gazeta have even been threatened by local religious leaders. Despite statements of condemnation from five experts at the United Nations Human Rights Council and several foreign ministries including the United States, Canada, the European Union and others, no action has been taken to end the abuse.”

Obtaining asylum for Russian LGBT seekers should be an easy no-brainer.

In Denis’s case, it is a nightmare.

When his six-month tourist visa expired, Denis—upon the advice of immigration and asylum attorneys—waited two months before applying for asylum. THIS IS STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE. Asylum seekers are advised to let their tourist visas expire before applying for asylum. The law requires only that the asylum seeker apply within one year of the expiration of his visa. Although that means the seeker has been in the country “illegally” for that period, that supposed transgression is always forgiven and overlooked as soon as the asylum seeker applies. Denis began the asylum process two months after his visa expired. He has obeyed all the rules and followed all requirements to the letter of the law.

According to Trump’s ICE officials, Denis was detained in Florida due to a visa violation because he applied for political asylum after his visa has expired – which, again, is STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, outlined by ICE itself and in effect for many years, for asylum seekers. Denis’s detention is clearly unlawful and is a direct result of the current administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

This unlawful detention puts Denis’s health at great risk. Nina Long at RUSA LGBT told me that she spoke with Denis a couple weeks ago and that he was indeed getting his HIV medications. However, since then, he has developed a fungal infection (possibly thrush) and has not been able to receive medication for it. This lack of medical treatment is unconscionable!

Moreover, as a gay foreigner housed in a “common area” detention center with no privacy at all, Denis faces taunting and physical danger from other detainees. Ms. Long told me that Denis has already been subjected to homophobic slurs. While admittedly such treatment pales when compared to beatings and “honor killings,” still it is utterly inexcusable and immoral.

 

For more information on this horrible injustice to this member of the worldwide LGBT community, please contact one or more of the following organizations.

UPDATE : Friday 28 April 2017
Denis Davydov was released from the Krome Immigration Detention Center in Miami FL on Thursday 27 April 2017. He flew home to an enthusiastic welcome at San Francisco International Airport. A&U will keep you updated on the status of Denis’s application for political asylum. 

To find out how you can help and for more information, log on to:

Free Denis Davydov Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/freedenisdavydov/?ref=br_rs

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV
http://msmgf.org/eyes-on-chechnya/

RUSA LGBT
http://rusalgbt.com/2017/04/ice_detention/

Immigration Equality
http://www.immigrationequality.org/get-legal-help/our-legal-resources/asylum/


Hank Trout is an Editor At Large at A&U. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.

  • How did he get thrush if he has been getting his meds?

    • I think the implication was that he had been getting meds and isn’t anymore. The sentence is kind of vague. He could also get thrush if he is sick, not due to HIV or if he has had oral sex with people who have uncontrolled yeast infections.

      • Roger Holzem

        You don’t necessarily have to have Sex to get this! It can be on raw foods and other ways it happens!

      • shadowfox306

        I ended up with thrush in my throat after taking a steroid inhaler. I would drink afterwards like instructed, but it ended up further down instead of just in my mouth and I’m a healthy individual so it’s completely possible.

    • gordon prout

      he might be getting his regular anti-viral meds but additional meds added on top of those previously prescribed may not necessarily being dispensed – a scenario might be where a non-prescribing prison nurse has made the diagnosis of thrush but no doctor is available to prescribe anti-fungal meds

    • Roger Holzem

      You can still get opportunistic infections! While on my meds I got cancer! Are you HIV positive? If so you need to read more! If not you still should read and learn more before commenting on an illness you know very little about! I have 27 years of Thrush and many other issues! When you have 27 years behind you as I have then comment on these things!

  • ThisIsMyName

    Lessons learned: If you are a political asylum seeker, NEVER leave the US mainland for any reason until you have been granter residency; that was really dumb.

    • alguien

      victim blaming is pretty sucky too.

      • ThisIsMyName

        You are a victim when you follow the rules. He is an asylum seeker, not granted asylum. 7 months into his arrival he is already traveling on vacation, not usual for an anguished asylum seeker. Playing the part of an asylum seeker is important.

    • David Speakman

      He never left the U.S.

      • ThisIsMyName

        My statement was US mainland. He left the US mainland. It is not uncommon, and in fact, it is standard practice that passengers are questioned about their immigration status when returning from US Territories (including the US VI and PR) – I’ve even heard stories from people returning from Hawaii and Alaska.

  • sobmaz

    I wish him well, I hope he is allowed to stay. It sounds like he has, or had gainful employment. Going home, to a place like Chechnya would be a death sentence.
    I wouldn’t want to live in Russia but I think people can live descreet lives without fear of death. Although the HIV adds a level that I’m not too sure about.

    The u.s. Is one of the most hardened countries in the world when it comes to foreigners who have hiv.

    This is not the first time I have read about undocumented residents thinking they can freely travel to u.s, territories and protectorates. As the poster below says, STAY IN THE 50 United States!

  • Virgoman1

    This is a deplorable action, by crazed ICE idiots who refuse to follow the law. We have to rid ourselves of the tRump regime as quickly as possible before more die with the evil of this regime! This isn’t my America, the America I was raised to believe we treated others who were driven out of their homelands with all the ignorance and intolerance used against them!

  • milomorris

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump. Trump’s travel restrictions are still being enjoined by the courts, so they cannot go into effect yet. This man’s problem is that he got caught up in a situation based on pre-existing laws.

    Putting the words “Trump Policies” in the headline is misleading. This is FAKE NEWS.

    • Hank Trout

      Actually, you are conflating the president’s blocked immigration restrictions with policy changes promulgated by ICE under Trump’s watch. You’re right — this has nothing to do with those Executive Orders — but the change in policy (detaining someone for following standard operating procedure) is new and it is absolutely Trump’s policy.

      • milomorris

        Hank, you are right. I was indeed thinking about the immigration restrictions. I was unaware of any internal policy changes within ICE.

        Thank you for clarifying that.

  • CoreyLynxx

    It makes my heart sink to know that he is being harassed by other detainees. Grown men acting like they are still in high school. That no doubt adds more stress to an already horrid situation and something needs to be done about it.