Federal judge lifts ban on Mexicans entering the U.S. to sell their plasma

A person waits in line to enter a CSL Plasma donation center in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., Wednesday, July 29, 2020.
Up to 10% of the blood plasma collected in the U.S. -millions of liters a year- comes from Mexicans.-millions of liters a year- comes from Mexicans. But frequent donation also presents health risks. The decision comes after this policy was established in July of last year.

A federal district judge in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday lifted the ban on Mexicans entering the United States to sell blood plasma.

Judge Tanya Chutkan granted a preliminary injunction overturning a policy announced last year by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials that barred Mexicans – many of them on B1 and B2 tourist visas – from participating in what had become a multimillion-dollar business along the border, as investigative website ProPublica reports.

Chutkan, who was appointed to her post by former President Barack Obama, ruled that CBP officials had “failed to take into account” the extent to which blood plasma companies relied on Mexican donors and said they had not adequately justified the policy, which went into effect in July 2021.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Chutkan found that the companies engaged in this activity were “likely to succeed” in overturning the ban if the case went to trial.

A CBP spokesman declined to answer ProPublica whether the agency plans to appeal the ruling. “This matter is still in litigation,” he said.

Companies such as Spain-based drugmaker Grifols, which had partnered with Australia-based rival CSL Plasma to sue CBP over the ban, are already again inviting Mexicans to come forward to sell their plasma in the United States.

“The decision is good news for patients in the United States, and around the world, who rely on life-saving plasma-based medicines,” a Grifols representative told the media outlet.

Up to 10% of the blood plasma collected in the U.S.-millions of liters a year-according to Pro-Publica, comes from Mexicans crossing the border on visas that allow brief visits for business and tourism.

The United States accounts for approximately 60% of the plasma collected worldwide.

The risks of frequent donation
Before the ban, for Raul (name protected), selling plasma was his main income. He donated up to eight times a month, twice a week, reports local Mexican newspaper El Diario.

“For me this practice represented a job, in which I managed to get up to 18,000 pesos a month (about $898),” Raul said.

Manuel, who also gave his testimony without a last name to El Diario, arrived in August 2021 to the United States to donate his plasma, when the ban was still in force.

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