Harvard officials received a scare over the weekend when the U.S. House of Representatives killed and then later resurrected an immigration reform package that would allow Harvard to continue its sponsorship of the Eighth Annual International AIDS Conference in 1992.
The bill would make it possible for individuals infected with AIDS to travel freely in the U.S. Over the summer, Harvard protested the travel restrictions and said that it would not sponsor the AIDS conference if the rules remained in place.
"We will take a look at what the law says and make a decision on whether or not to go forward," said Allan Fine, executive director of the Harvard AIDS Institute. "I really can't imagine any problems at this point," he said.
After winning easy approval in the Senate Friday night, the House voted the immigration package down because of a provision the Senate had added to it that would increase governmental record-keeping on some immigrants.
It was feared that the vote would be the last chance to pass the bill before the current session ended. But the bill's sponsors were able to push the package through Saturday evening after removing the controversial provision added by the Senate.
President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill allows for a large increase in the number of skilled immigrants admitted to the country, as well as leaving it to federal health officials to decide which communicable diseases would be enough to bar entrance into the country.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan has said that there is no reason to prevent those with AIDS or the HIV-virus from coming into the U.S.
Harvard, working with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.), had lobbied for the change, saying that it was unfair to limit the travel of individuals infected with AIDS virus who might want to attend theinternational conference.
"It would not have been possible to have theconference in Boston had [the exclusionaryprovision] not been removed," said John Shattuck,Harvard vice president for government, communityand public affairs.
After late night deal-making Friday, theSentate had added a three-state pilot program thatwould have required many foreign immigrants to usespecial finger-printed drivers licenses asidentification.
Many House members opposed the provision,saying it could open the door to discriminationagainst anyone suspected of being an immigrant