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Alva named adjunct professor of the year at UT San Antonio Health

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Eric Alva (Photo by Farris Foto)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Eric Alva on his recognition as adjunct professor of the year for the second time in four years at the University of Texas, San Antonio College for Health, Community and Policy, Department of Social work.  

 “I am truly blessed and grateful for this recognition,” Alva said. “I could not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my students, and colleagues. They have supported me and have taught me so much. Though I may be the one standing up in front of the class, my students know that it is not “my class” it is “our” class because it belongs to them as much as it belongs to me. They teach me every class something new and that is a gift.” 

In addition to serving as an adjunct professor, Alva is a motivational public speaker represented by Keppler Speakers. He speaks on his life and as a political and human rights activist. He has delivered speeches at more than 200 colleges and universities, including Harvard, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Texas A&M, and Northwestern. He has spoken to other audiences including NASA, Pepsi, AOL, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Sodexo, Raytheon, American Airlines, and The Hartford. 

Alva speaks of his personal experiences including working to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the challenges facing LGBTQ service members. He speaks of his own life overcoming obstacles as he recovered from injuries sustained in battle, learning to walk again, and starting a new life after 13 years in the military. He speaks inspirationally drawing on personal experiences as a disabled military veteran, a Hispanic, and a gay man. 

He worked for the Child Protective Services Division, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. He served in the United States Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Regiment and retired at the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6). He is a much-decorated service member whose deployments included Somalia (Operation Restore Hope) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). He was a member of first wave of Marines to enter Iraq in 2003, when he was injured and lost his leg. His awards include Purple Heart Medal (first soldier wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom); Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5); Combat Action Ribbon; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (4); National Defense Service Medal (2); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4); Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; and Meritorious Unit Commendation (3); 

Alva has volunteered for the Human Rights Campaign as a national spokesperson for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He represented HRC at public events nationally and in the media. He has volunteered for the San Antonio Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Chamber of Commerce; San Antonio Stonewall Democrats where he was a member of the board; National Association of Social Workers; and the Dive Pirates Foundation (adaptive SCUBA diving for people with disabilities). 

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal judge blocks White House from ending Title 42

Advocacy groups say policy further endangered LGBTQ asylum seekers

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The Mexico-U.S. border in Mexicali, Mexico, on July 22, 2018. A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration from terminating Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic. The previous White House's policy was to have ended on May 23, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic was to have ended Monday, but it remains in place after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end it.

The White House last month announced it would terminate Title 42, a policy the previous administration implemented in March 2020.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Louisiana on May 20 issued a ruling that prevented the Biden administration from terminating the Trump-era policy. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement announced the Justice Department will appeal the decision, while adding the administration “will continue to enforce the CDC’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”

“This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8 (of the U.S. Code),” said Jean-Pierre.

Advocacy groups and members of Congress with whom the Washington Blade has spoken since Title 42 took effect say it continues to place LGBTQ asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups who seek refuge in the U.S. at even more risk.

Oluchi Omeoga, co-director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, last month described Title 42 as a “racist and harmful policy.” ORAM (Organization of Refuge, Asylum and Migration) Executive Director Steve Roth said Title 42 “put asylum seekers in harm’s way in border towns and prevented them from seeking safety in the United States.”

Title 42 was to have ended less than a month after five members of Congress from California visited two LGBTQ shelters for asylum seekers in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

The Council for Global Equality, which organized the trip, in a tweet after Summerhays issued his ruling described Title 42 as a “catastrophe.”

“The Biden administration cannot breathe a sign of relief until it’s a matter of the past,” said the Council for Global Equality on Saturday. “We remain committed to end Title 42.”

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Russia

U.S. official meets with Brittney Griner

Consular visit took place on May 19

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A mugshot of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested on drug charges in the country after Russian officials say cannabis oil was found in her luggage. (Russian television screenshot)

A U.S. consular official on May 19 visited detained WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday told reporters during a virtual briefing the officer “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.” The officer met with Griner two days after U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Russian officials had denied consular visits with her three times this month.

“Our message is a clear and simple one,” said Price. “We continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees. One-off visits are not sufficient, and we will continue to call on Moscow to uphold its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access as well.”

Griner — a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married to her wife — was taken into custody at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Russian officials said customs inspectors found hashish oil in her luggage.

The State Department has determined Russia “wrongfully detained” Griner. 

A Russian court on May 13 extended her detention for another month. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, a union that represents WNBA players, has endorsed a petition that urges the Biden administration to “prioritize” Griner’s release.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, on May 14.

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Latin America

U.S. announces more funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Latin America

Jill Biden made announcement on Saturday in Panama

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Former Panamanian first lady Lorena Castillo and UNAIDS in 2017 launched a campaign to fight discrimination against Panamanians with HIV/AIDS. Panama will receive $12.2 million in new PEPFAR funding to further combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Latin America. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

First lady Jill Biden on Saturday announced the U.S. will provide an additional $80.9 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin America.

Biden during a visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano, a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS in Panama City, said the State Department will earmark an additional $80.9 million for President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-funded work in Latin America. A Panamanian activist with whom the Washington Blade spoke said LGBTQ people were among those who met with the first lady during her visit.

Pope Francis visited the shelter in 2019.

“I’m glad we have the opportunity to talk about how the United States and Panama can work together to combat HIV,” said the first lady.

Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesperson, noted Panama will receive $12.2 million of the $80.9 million in PEPFAR funding.

“This funding, pending Congressional notification, will support expanded HIV/AIDS services and treatment,” said LaRosa.

UNAIDS statistics indicate an estimated 31,000 Panamanians were living with HIV/AIDS in 2020. The first lady’s office notes the country in 2020 had the highest number of “newly notificated cases of HIV/AIDS” in Central America.

The first lady visited Panama as part of a trip that included stops in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

The Summit of the Americas will take place next month in Los Angeles. The U.S. Agency for International Development and PEPFAR in April announced they delivered more than 18 million doses of antiretroviral drugs for Ukrainians with HIV/AIDS.

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