“I told him, you’ve sent me to death.”
Ricardo Querales is an HIV-positive Venezuelan man living in Florida. Originally, Querales was granted asylum 13 years ago and didn’t have to worry about his immigration status. A minor drug offense, according to WPLG Local 10, landed him in the legal system and cost him his safety in the U.S. The man was given adjudication withheld, which in Florida means he was never formally convicted of a crime and was given probation as his punishment. Despite never being convicted of a crime, the arrest was enough to strip him of his asylum leaving him at the mercy of Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents at his routine check-ins.
For Quealres, the fear is more than being deported, but losing access to necessary medication. “I have friends dying everyday because they don’t have medication,” Querales told WPLG Local 10.
Venezuela is in the middle of a major economic crisis after global oil prices plummeted. The result is people going without food, education, and even life-saving medication. That is Querales’ fear, according to WPLG Local 10. NBC News reports that the antiretroviral medication that is used to slow down the progression of HIV and stop infections that could be life-threatening has become scarce. Hospitals have stopped testing for the virus and people are dying from HIV and AIDS because there just isn’t medication to treat the patients.
Querales is worried about being sent to a country in the middle of an economic turmoil so severe that the life-saving medication he would need to survive does not exist. According to WPLG Local 10, Querales is trying to use the humanitarian issue of sending him back to stay the deportation proceedings. As of now, he is expected to report to ICE offices in Miramar, Fla. at the end of February with his passport and plane ticket to Venezuela.