For Ricardo Querales, the fear of deportation is so much more than being sent back to his home country. If he is sent to Venezuela he will not be able to receive the necessary medicine to treat his HIV.
Querales was granted asylum in Florida 13 years ago but a minor drug offense, for which he was not convicted, could cost him his status in the United States. Although he was never convicted of any crime, being arrested was enough to put him on ICE's radar and strip him of his asylum, according to WPLG Local 10.
The Maracaibo native escaped political persecution in 2003 and was granted asylum in 2004. In 2006, he discovered that he was HIV positive, a disease that threatens the livelihoods of gay men like him. According to the Miami Herald, he turned to drugs to cope with his diagnosis, depression, and loneliness in a foreign country.
As Venezuela is in the middle of a huge economic crisis, its citizens have been going without food, education, and necessary life-saving medication. Hospitals have stopped testing for HIV and other STDs because there isn't any medication to treat patients, according to NBC. The Washington Post reports that contraception and condoms have all but disappeared, with a pack of condoms costing around $755.
That is his biggest fear. If he is sent to Venezuela he will be sent to a country that cannot provide him the medication necessary to save his life because it does not exist there. “I have friends dying every day because they don’t have medication,” Querales told WPLG Local 10. He also told the ICE agents that are overseeing his case, "You have sent me to death."
Still, Querales went to his regularly scheduled check-in with the immigration office in North Miami, not knowing whether he would be walking out. After the check-in, the 43-year-old, who wears an ankle monitor, went to work. However, he is scheduled to appear again on February 22nd with his passport and plane ticket during his scheduled deportation day. Querales is holding on to the hope that the United States will acknowledge the shortage of medication and the humanitarian crisis that is ongoing on Venezuela and allow him to regain his asylum.