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Congress set to extend refugee benefits

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The U.S. Congress is set to enact a law that extends benefits for elderly refugees.

The bill passed Aug. 1 by the Senate extends by two years the seven years elderly and disabled refugees may receive Supplemental Social Security income without becoming citizens.

The House of Representatives passed a similar version last year; the Senate version now goes back to the House and is assured passage. The Bush administration backs the measure.

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the United Jewish Communities lobbied hard for the bill.

A slowdown in processing immigration applications after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has made it longer to acquire citizenship. Without passage of the bill, more than 30,000 people would be affected by the end of this year, HIAS said in a release.

“HIAS is particularly gratified because when this bill becomes law, among its primary beneficiaries will be the aging Russian-Jewish emigre community in the U.S.,” a statement from the group said.

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