By Anabelle Garay
The Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — A new requirement that girls as young as 11 be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus before they can become legal U.S. residents is unfair, immigration advocates say.
The federal rule added Gardasil to the list of vaccinations that female immigrants ages 11 to 26 must get before they can obtain “green cards.”
The series of three shots over six months protects against the strains of the human papillomavirus blamed for most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. But the vaccine is one of the most expensive on the market and controversial.
“This is a huge economic, social and cultural barrier to immigrants who are coming into America,” said Tuyet Duong, senior staff attorney for the Immigration and Immigrant Rights Program at the Asian American Justice Center.
At a cost of $400, Gardasil places an added burden on green card applicants already paying more than $1,000 in form fees and hundreds of dollars for mandatory medical exams, advocates say.
“What surprised us the most is that this requirement is for immigrant girls and women, but not for the general population of natural born citizens,” said Jessica Arons, director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress.
Despite objections by immigrant advocates that the law is invasive and unfair, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the agency must enforce it. ♦