San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Final Report 1996

Resolution for Decriminalization of Prostitution Regarding Immigrant Issues
(San Francisco 1994)

Prepared by Asian AIDS Project. Participants include Roe Johnson, Michael Kim, Mai Nhung Le, Caroline Lee, Dawn Passar, Dominic Perez, Mara Torres, and Kiki Whitlock.

WHEREAS, legalization of prostitution in the City and County of San Francisco is not in the best interest of immigrant communities who do prostitution or other sex work because the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) is a federal agency which sets its own standards for immigrants who seek citizenship or permanent residency. The INS is not necessarily subjected or bound to adhere to local or city policies. Even if a city policy legalizes prostitution, the INS may still not recognize this line of work in accordance with its policies of good moral conduct. Also, legalization of prostitution might require different kinds of health regulations and requirements such as, mandatory HIV and STD testing. If an immigrant sex worker tests HIV positive, that tests results might be told to INS and that sex worker's citizenship or permanent residency might be denied.

WHEREAS, immigrant youth who are convicted or accused of prostitution or other sex work might face the same or similar punishment as immigrant adults, immigrant youth have other special issues that adults do not often face such as, peer pressure to belong to a group or gang, drug experimentation, runaway and homelessness issues, confusion about one's sexual orientation or gender identity, etc. Currently, youth who are convicted of prostitution are sent to Juvenile Hall.

WHEREAS, we are not advocating for immigrants to be sent to America against their will for the sole of purpose of doing prostitution or sex work, however, in instances where an immigrant person is sent to America to do prostitution or sex work certain accommodations should be afforded these individuals.

BE IT RECOMMENDED THAT, keeping prostitution as a misdemeanor or felony in some cases of HIV is too severe of a punishment, not to mention a waste of city taxpayers' moneys to incarcerate people convicted of prostitution or other sex work, we recommend decriminalization of prostitution as a viable option because an immigrant doing sex work would not face stiff or harsh legal penalties (e.g., heavy fines, jail, probation, etc.) if convicted or accused of prostitution or other sex work. Therefore, with decriminalization of prostitution the INS might not be apprised of an immigrantŐs conviction or charge of prostitution.

BE IT RECOMMENDED THAT, decriminalization of prostitution is also recommend for immigrant youth who are convicted of prostitution or other sex work for the same reasons as for immigrant adults. If prostitution was decriminalized, instead of youth being sent to Juvenile Hall, they would be sent to a shelter (e.g., Huckleberry House, etc.).

BE IT RECOMMENDED THAT, an immigrant who is sent to America to do prostitution or other sex work against her or his will, she or he should be given asylum or immunity against punishment or prosecution by the INS. That person should have the right to either return to their original homeland or stay in America without the threat of being punished or jailed.

BE IT RECOMMENDED THAT, prostitution related crimes should be removed from the INS list of moral turpitude offenses which require exclusion or deportation.

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