SSI EXTENSION FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED REFUGEES ACT
(House of Representatives - July 11, 2007)

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[Pages H7559-H7566]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          SSI EXTENSION FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED REFUGEES ACT

  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 2608) to amend section 402 of the Personal Responsibility 
and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 to provide, in fiscal 
years 2008 through 2010, extensions of supplemental security income for 
refugees, asylees, and certain other humanitarian immigrants, and to 
amend the Internal Revenue Code to collect unemployment compensation 
debts resulting from fraud.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 2608

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``SSI Extension for Elderly 
     and Disabled Refugees Act''.

     SEC. 2. SSI EXTENSIONS FOR HUMANITARIAN IMMIGRANTS.

       Section 402(a)(2) of the Personal Responsibility and Work 
     Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1612(a)(2)) 
     is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(M) SSI extensions through fiscal year 2010.--
       ``(i) Two-year extension.--

       ``(I) In general.--Except as provided in clause (ii), with 
     respect to eligibility for benefits for the specified Federal 
     program described in paragraph (3)(A), the 7-year period 
     described in subparagraph (A) shall be deemed to be a 9-year 
     period during fiscal years 2008 through 2010.
       ``(II) Aliens whose benefits ceased in prior fiscal 
     years.--

       ``(aa) In general.--Beginning on the date of the enactment 
     of the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act, 
     any qualified alien rendered ineligible for the specified 
     Federal program described in paragraph (3)(A) during fiscal 
     years prior to fiscal year 2008 solely by reason of the 
     termination of the 7-year period described in subparagraph 
     (A) shall be eligible for such program for an additional 2-
     year period in accordance with this clause, if such alien 
     meets all other eligibility factors under title XVI of the 
     Social Security Act.
       ``(bb) Payment of benefits.--Benefits paid under item (aa) 
     shall be paid prospectively over the duration of the 
     qualified alien's renewed eligibility.
       ``(ii) Pending naturalization application.--With respect to 
     eligibility for benefits for the specified program described 
     in paragraph (3) (A), subsection (a)(1) shall not

[[Page H7560]]

     apply during fiscal years 2008 through 2010 to an alien 
     described in one of clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph 
     (A), if the alien has submitted an application for 
     naturalization that is pending before the Secretary of 
     Homeland Security, and such submission is verified by the 
     Commissioner of Social Security either by receiving a receipt 
     number from the alien for such submitted application or by 
     receiving confirmation from the Secretary of Homeland 
     Security.''.

     SEC. 3. COLLECTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION DEBTS 
                   RESULTING FROM FRAUD.

       (a) In General.--Section 6402 of the Internal Revenue Code 
     (relating to authority to make credits or refunds) is amended 
     by redesignating subsections (f) through (k) as subsections 
     (g) through (l), respectively, and by inserting after 
     subsection (e) the following new subsection:
       ``(f) Collection of Unemployment Compensation Debts 
     Resulting From Fraud.--
       ``(1) In general.--Upon receiving notice from any State 
     that a named person owes a covered unemployment compensation 
     debt to such State, the Secretary shall, under such 
     conditions as may be prescribed by the Secretary--
       ``(A) reduce the amount of any overpayment payable to such 
     person by the amount of such covered unemployment 
     compensation debt;
       ``(B) pay the amount by which such overpayment is reduced 
     under subparagraph (A) to such State and notify such State of 
     such person's name, taxpayer identification number, address, 
     and the amount collected; and
       ``(C) notify the person making such overpayment that the 
     overpayment has been reduced by an amount necessary to 
     satisfy a covered unemployment compensation debt.

     If an offset is made pursuant to a joint return, the notice 
     under subparagraph (B) shall include the names, taxpayer 
     identification numbers, and addresses of each person filing 
     such return and the notice under subparagraph (C) shall 
     include information related to the rights of a spouse of a 
     person subject to such an offset.
       ``(2) Priorities for offset.--Any overpayment by a person 
     shall be reduced pursuant to this subsection--
       ``(A) after such overpayment is reduced pursuant to--
       ``(i) subsection (a) with respect to any liability for any 
     internal revenue tax on the part of the person who made the 
     overpayment;
       ``(ii) subsection (c) with respect to past-due support; and
       ``(iii) subsection (d) with respect to any past-due, 
     legally enforceable debt owed to a Federal agency; and
       ``(B) before such overpayment is credited to the future 
     liability for any Federal internal revenue tax of such person 
     pursuant to subsection (b).

     If the Secretary receives notice from a State or States of 
     more than one debt subject to paragraph (1) or subsection (e) 
     that is owed by a person to such State or States, any 
     overpayment by such person shall be applied against such 
     debts in the order in which such debts accrued.
       ``(3) Notice; consideration of evidence.--No State may take 
     action under this subsection until such State--
       ``(A) notifies the person owing the covered unemployment 
     compensation debt that the State proposes to take action 
     pursuant to this section;
       ``(B) provides such person at least 60 days to present 
     evidence that all or part of such liability is not legally 
     enforceable or due to fraud;
       ``(C) considers any evidence presented by such person and 
     determines that an amount of such debt is legally enforceable 
     and due to fraud; and
       ``(D) satisfies such other conditions as the Secretary may 
     prescribe to ensure that the determination made under 
     subparagraph (C) is valid and that the State has made 
     reasonable efforts to obtain payment of such covered 
     unemployment compensation debt.
       ``(4) Covered unemployment compensation debt.--For purposes 
     of this subsection, the term `covered unemployment 
     compensation debt' means--
       ``(A) a past-due debt for erroneous payment of unemployment 
     compensation due to fraud which has become final under the 
     law of a State certified by the Secretary of Labor pursuant 
     to section 3304 and which remains uncollected;
       ``(B) contributions due to the unemployment fund of a State 
     for which the State has determined the person to be liable 
     due to fraud; and
       ``(C) any penalties and interest assessed on such debt.
       ``(5) Regulations.--
       ``(A) In general.--The Secretary may issue regulations 
     prescribing the time and manner in which States must submit 
     notices of covered unemployment compensation debt and the 
     necessary information that must be contained in or accompany 
     such notices. The regulations may specify the minimum amount 
     of debt to which the reduction procedure established by 
     paragraph (1) may be applied.
       ``(B) Fee payable to secretary.--The regulations may 
     require States to pay a fee to the Secretary, which may be 
     deducted from amounts collected, to reimburse the Secretary 
     for the cost of applying such procedure. Any fee paid to the 
     Secretary pursuant to the preceding sentence shall be used to 
     reimburse appropriations which bore all or part of the cost 
     of applying such procedure.
       ``(C) Submission of notices through secretary of labor.--
     The regulations may include a requirement that States submit 
     notices of covered unemployment compensation debt to the 
     Secretary via the Secretary of Labor in accordance with 
     procedures established by the Secretary of Labor. Such 
     procedures may require States to pay a fee to the Secretary 
     of Labor to reimburse the Secretary of Labor for the costs of 
     applying this subsection. Any such fee shall be established 
     in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury. Any fee 
     paid to the Secretary of Labor may be deducted from amounts 
     collected and shall be used to reimburse the appropriation 
     account which bore all or part of the cost of applying this 
     subsection.
       ``(6) Erroneous payment to state.--Any State receiving 
     notice from the Secretary that an erroneous payment has been 
     made to such State under paragraph (1) shall pay promptly to 
     the Secretary, in accordance with such regulations as the 
     Secretary may prescribe, an amount equal to the amount of 
     such erroneous payment (without regard to whether any other 
     amounts payable to such State under such paragraph have been 
     paid to such State).''.
       (b) Disclosure of Certain Information to States Requesting 
     Refund Offsets for Legally Enforceable State Unemployment 
     Compensation Debt Resulting From Fraud.--
       (1) General rule.--Paragraph (3) of section 6103(a) of such 
     Code is amended by inserting ``(10),'' after ``(6),''.
       (2) Disclosure to department of labor and its agent.--
     Paragraph (10) of section 6103(l) of such Code is amended--
       (A) by striking ``(c), (d), or (e)'' each place it appears 
     in the heading and text and inserting ``(c), (d), (e), or 
     (f)'',
       (B) in subparagraph (A) by inserting ``, to officers and 
     employees of the Department of Labor and its agent for 
     purposes of facilitating the exchange of data in connection 
     with a request made under subsection (f)(5) of section 
     6402,'' after ``section 6402'', and
       (C) in subparagraph (B) by inserting ``, and any agents of 
     the Department of Labor,'' after ``agency'' the first place 
     it appears.
       (3) Safeguards.--Paragraph (4) of section 6103(p) of such 
     Code is amended--
       (A) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking 
     ``(l)(16),'' and inserting ``(l)(10), (16),'';
       (B) in subparagraph (F)(i), by striking ``(l)(16),'' and 
     inserting ``(l)(10), (16),''; and
       (C) in the matter following subparagraph (F)(iii)--
       (i) in each of the first two places it appears, by striking 
     ``(l)(16),'' and inserting ``(l)(10), (16),'';
       (ii) by inserting ``(10),'' after ``paragraph (6)(A),''; 
     and
       (iii) in each of the last two places it appears, by 
     striking ``(l)(16)'' and inserting ``(l)(10) or (16)''.
       (c) Expenditures From State Fund.--Section 3304(a)(4) of 
     such Code is amended--
       (1) in subparagraph (E), by striking ``and'' after the 
     semicolon;
       (2) in subparagraph (F), by inserting ``and'' after the 
     semicolon; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
       ``(G) with respect to amounts of covered unemployment 
     compensation debt (as defined in section 6402(f)(4)) 
     collected under section 6402(f)--
       ``(i) amounts may be deducted to pay any fees authorized 
     under such section; and
       ``(ii) the penalties and interest described in section 
     6402(f)(4)(B) may be transferred to the appropriate State 
     fund into which the State would have deposited such amounts 
     had the person owing the debt paid such amounts directly to 
     the State;''.
       (d) Conforming Amendments.--
       (1) Subsection (a) of section 6402 of such Code is amended 
     by striking ``(c), (d), and (e),'' and inserting ``(c), (d), 
     (e), and (f)''.
       (2) Paragraph (2) of section 6402(d) of such Code is 
     amended by striking ``and before such overpayment is reduced 
     pursuant to subsection (e)'' and inserting ``and before such 
     overpayment is reduced pursuant to subsections (e) and (f)''.
       (3) Paragraph (3) of section 6402(e) of such Code is 
     amended in the last sentence by inserting ``or subsection 
     (f)'' after ``paragraph (1)''.
       (4) Subsection (g) of section 6402 of such Code, as 
     redesignated by subsection (a), is amended by striking ``(c), 
     (d), or (e)'' and inserting ``(c), (d), (e), or (f)''.
       (5) Subsection (i) of section 6402 of such Code, as 
     redesignated by subsection (a), is amended by striking 
     ``subsection (c) or (e)'' and inserting ``subsection (c), 
     (e), or (f)''.
       (e) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall apply to refunds payable under section 6402 of the 
     Internal Revenue Code of 1986 on or after the date of 
     enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Washington (Mr. McDermott) and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Weller) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Washington.


                             General Leave

  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include therein extraneous materials on this bill under consideration.

[[Page H7561]]

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Washington?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, refugees come to America fleeing 
persecution, injustice, torture and even death. During a hearing before 
the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, we heard from 
one of those refugees. His name was K'Keng, and he fought alongside 
American forces during the Vietnam war. In fact, he was recruited and 
trained by our Special Forces. After the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, he 
was imprisoned for 6 years as a political prisoner, after which he 
eventually made it to the United States as a refugee.
  He tried working, but the wounds he suffered during the war made that 
difficult. Based on his disability and the fact that he had almost no 
other source of income, he began receiving Supplemental Security 
Income, or SSI, benefits. But those benefits were terminated when he 
reached a 7-year time limit on SSI on refugees. He is now 75, partially 
blind, and lives on only a few hundred dollars worth of food stamps 
every month, as well as assistance from his young son.
  Nearly 7,000 elderly and disabled refugees have lost their SSI 
benefits. The Social Security Administration projects another 16,000 
will do so over the next few years unless the Congress acts.
  As the beacon of freedom around the world, America can do better than 
this. While it is true that a refugee may continue to receive SSI if he 
or she becomes a citizen, a series of obstacles make that transition to 
citizenship difficult within the 7-year limit of SSI benefits.
  First, a refugee must live in the United States for at least 5 years 
before they are eligible to submit an application for citizenship.

                              {time}  1615

  A refugee must then confront a lengthy application process which can 
take up to 3 to 4 years. Backlogs in processing citizenship 
applications have been caused by a variety of issues, including 
protracted background checks put in place after September 11 terrorist 
attacks. There are other barriers to citizenship, such as the 
continuing impact of the recent annual cap on the number of asylees who 
may become legal permanent residents, a status which asylees must 
maintain for 4 years before they may submit an application for 
citizenship.
  Also, some disabled and elderly refugees encounter difficulties 
navigating the application process, which includes both an English 
language and a U.S. civics test.
  I'm pleased to say there is bipartisan support for addressing this 
issue. The last several budget proposals from the Bush administration 
have called for an extension in SSI benefits for refugees, and there is 
a bipartisan bill pending in the U.S. Senate.
  I would like especially to thank Mr. Weller, the ranking member on 
the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, for working 
with me to forge the bipartisan bill we are now considering.
  This bill, H.R. 2608, would generally extend SSI benefits for an 
additional 2 years for disabled and elderly refugees, asylees and other 
qualified humanitarian immigrants, including those whose benefits have 
expired in the recent past. Benefits could be extended for an 
additional period for those awaiting a decision on pending application 
for citizenship. These policies would be in effect till 2010.
  The legislation completely offsets the cost of the SSI extension for 
refugees within a provision that will reduce Federal tax refunds to 
recover unemployment insurance debts due to fraud. The Federal tax 
refund offset authority already exists to collect unpaid child support, 
unpaid State taxes and debts owed to the Federal agencies.
  The bill simply says that if a State concludes that a worker has 
fraudulently received unemployment benefits or a business owner has 
failed to pay UI taxes based on fraud, the State can seek to receive a 
portion of any Federal tax refund that the individual may be owed. 
Before pursuing a tax offset, the State would be required to notify the 
individual and provide them with at least 60 days to contest the amount 
being recovered.
  By catching and reducing fraud in the unemployment insurance system, 
this provision not only offsets the cost of the SSI extension for 
refugees, but it also will reduce unemployment taxes on employers. The 
Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the legislation will cut payroll 
taxes by $326 million over the next 10 years.
  Mr. Speaker, refugees come to our country fleeing persecution. They 
reside in our country legally, and those eligible for SSI are disabled, 
elderly or both. This legislation extends a modest benefit to help them 
provide for their most basic essentials. The bill will not add one dime 
to the Federal deficit, and it will even provide a tax cut. Such a 
combination should ensure broad support for this vital effort to help 
those most in need.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. WELLER of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I 
may consume.
  This bipartisan legislation that we are considering today, the SSI 
Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act, increases the amount 
of time that certain low-income disabled and aged immigrants can 
continue to receive Supplemental Security Income, SSI benefits, from 7 
to 9 years. These are individuals legally allowed in the United States 
for humanitarian reasons after fleeing persecution and suffering in 
their own countries. The approximately 28,000 individuals assisted by 
this legislation include refugees, asylees and Cuban/Haitian entrants 
from around the world.
  To gain access to permanent eligibility for SSI and all other 
benefits and freedoms afforded to Americans, legal refugees and asylees 
are eligible to become U.S. citizens through the naturalization process 
now administered by the Department of Homeland Security. However, as 
many Members have heard from constituents, this process does not always 
move forward in a timely manner for a number of reasons.
  For instance, a letter I recently received from the Sargent Shriver 
National Center on Poverty Law in Illinois outlines a case in which an 
elderly Jewish refugee couple from the former Soviet Union working to 
become citizens encountered problems of lost paperwork and the need to 
have fingerprints retaken time and time again. A recent Washington Post 
story noted that as of March of 2007, this spring, nearly 1.3 million 
individuals were in the Department of Homeland Security citizenship 
application backlog, and 330,000 cases were in the FBI background check 
backlog.
  Recognizing the likelihood of ongoing issues in the naturalization 
process, this legislation provides up to one extra year of eligibility, 
for a total of up to 10 years, for those refugees and asylees needing 
more time to complete the naturalization process. This is an important 
provision as it emphasizes the relative temporary nature of SSI 
eligibility for newly arrived legal refugees and asylees, while 
encouraging them to pursue citizenship so that they may fully 
participate in our Nation's democracy.
  As with the other features of this legislation that relate to 
eligibility for SSI benefits, this provision is effective from fiscal 
year 2008 through 2010. So a future Congress must reexamine whether 
these provisions are working as intended, including providing refugees 
and related individuals who are playing by the rules and applying for 
citizenship, sufficient time to go through that process without losing 
access to these important benefits.
  These additional SSI benefits are paid for through a provision that 
will reduce Federal income tax refunds to better recover unemployment 
benefit overpayments that resulted from fraud. Tax refund offsets 
already occur for delinquent child support payments and certain other 
debts owed to the Federal Government, and this simply allows the 
current process to work in recovering unemployment benefit 
overpayments.
  The Congressional Budget Office estimates this permanent change will 
more than pay for the additional SSI benefits provided in this bill. 
This is sound policy and builds on proposals included in recent Bush 
administration budget proposals.
  The Ways and Means Committee, and in particular the Income Security 
and Family Support Subcommittee, on which I serve as ranking member, 
has

[[Page H7562]]

long been active in developing legislation to combat fraud and abuse 
involving unemployment and other benefits. I'm pleased to see we are 
continuing that effort with this legislation.
  For example, in 2004, under the leadership of former chairman Wally 
Herger, we passed provisions to stop the illegal manipulation of State 
unemployment taxes. We also allowed State unemployment plans to use 
information in the National Directory of New Hires to help prevent 
unemployment benefit overpayments. Today's legislation builds on those 
efforts, and I am proud to support it.
  I would also note that this legislation is supported by a long list 
of faith-based and other community groups, including many who assist 
refugees in their efforts to become citizens. That list includes the 
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Sargent Shriver National Center on 
Poverty Law, Lutheran Social Services of America, and Catholic 
Charities USA, among many, many other groups.
  I would also note I received a letter of support from the Social 
Security Administration endorsing this bipartisan bill, and I will 
include the letters of support in the Record.
  Finally, I would also like to recognize the efforts of my friend and 
colleague, Representative Phil English of Pennsylvania who, among many 
others, has worked diligently to see that these sorts of changes occur, 
including by introducing bills to this same goal and effect.
  I encourage all Members to join me in supporting this bipartisan 
legislation.

                                                    June 28, 2007.
       Dear Representative, Representing a diverse cross-section 
     of organizations from across the country, we write to you 
     today to ask that you support H.R. 2608--the ``SSI Extension 
     for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act.'' This bipartisan bill 
     is a critical lifeline to thousands of elderly and disabled 
     refugees who are about to lose, or have already lost, their 
     Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits due to the 
     arbitrary seven-year time limit to which their eligibility is 
     limited.
       This bill, introduced by Representatives Jim McDermott (D-
     7th WA) and Jerry Weller (R-11th IL), Chair and Ranking 
     Member, respectively, of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on 
     Income Security and Family Support, will provide a two-year 
     extension of SSI eligibility for elderly and disabled 
     refugees, as well as a provision to cover those who lost 
     benefits prior to enactment of the legislation. The bill will 
     also ensure that refugees who are making efforts to become 
     citizens, but are caught up in the processing backlogs 
     through no fault of their own, are given additional time to 
     naturalize. H.R. 2608 will provide vital relief to thousands 
     of refugees who have already fallen into extreme destitution.
       The number of people who are losing their life-sustaining 
     SSI benefits, in large part due to delays in the immigration 
     system beyond their control, is climbing. The Social Security 
     Administration currently projects that 50,000 elderly and 
     disabled refugees will face extreme hardship and destitution 
     by 2012 due to the suspension of their SSI benefits. These 
     individuals fled persecution or torture in countries such as 
     Iran, Russia, Iraq, Vietnam and Somalia, and now are too 
     elderly or disabled to support themselves.
       As more and more people begin to reach the end of their 
     seven-year eligibility period, the human impact of this 
     restrictive time limit has become increasingly dire and all 
     the more intolerable. Some will lose health insurance as 
     well, because SSI and Medicaid eligibility are typically 
     linked. Among those who have already lost SSI benefits is a 
     Jewish elderly couple from the former Soviet Union; the 
     husband is deaf and the wife suffers from heart disease. 
     However, this restriction does not affect only the elderly, 
     as illustrated by the case of a 16-year-old Iranian boy with 
     mental retardation, autism, seizures, and severe macrocephaly 
     who lost his SSI benefits and Medicaid health insurance due 
     to the seven-year time limit. These are only but two of the 
     thousands of heartbreaking stories that we will continue to 
     be confronted with unless Congress acts now to lengthen the 
     insufficient eligibility period for this extremely vulnerable 
     population.
       The crisis is already upon us. Each and every month, 
     elderly and disabled refugees are losing their lifeline of 
     support. With the exception of West Virginia, no state is 
     left untouched by this arbitrary time limit. Some 4,500 
     people will lose their SSI benefits in fiscal year 2007 
     alone. This bill enjoys bipartisan support, builds on similar 
     proposals in recent Bush Administration budgets, and contains 
     a savings provision that will cover the modest cost of the 
     extension. Given the urgency of the situation and the life-
     threatening consequences that these individuals face, we 
     strongly urge you to support the passage of H.R. 2608 this 
     year. We are hopeful that Congress will act quickly and 
     decisively to prevent the unnecessary hardship that this 
     already-victimized population stands to suffer. Thank you for 
     your consideration.
           Respectfully,

                                National

        American Academy of HIV; American Association of Homes and 
     Services for the Aging; American Association of Jews from the 
     Former USSR, Inc; American Association of People with 
     Disabilities; American Federation of State, County and 
     Municipal Employees; American Friends Service Committee; 
     American Jewish Committee; American Network of Community 
     Options and Resources; American Occupational Therapy 
     Association; Americans for Democratic Action, Inc; Asian 
     American Justice Center; Asian Americans for Equality; 
     Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies (AJFCA); 
     Boat People SOS; Break the Chain Campaign; Campaign for 
     Working Families; Catholic Charities USA; Center for Civil 
     Justice; and Disability Navigators Inc.
       EESA-Eastern European Service Agency; Gay Men's Health 
     Crisis; Hispanic Coalition; HIV Medicine Association; 
     HIVictorious, Inc.; Hmong National Development, Inc.; 
     Immigrant and Refugee Rights Program, Washington Lawyers' 
     Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; Institute for 
     Peace and Justice; Institute for Social and Economic 
     Development (ISED); International AIDS Empowerment; 
     International District Housing Alliance; International Rescue 
     Committee; International Service Center; Jewish Council for 
     Public Affairs; Jubilee Campaign USA Inc; Justice, Peace & 
     Integrity of Creation Office of the Wheaton Franciscans; 
     Living Room, Inc; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service 
     (LIRS); Lutheran Services in America; 9to5, National 
     Association of Working Women.
       National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good 
     Shepherd; National Asian Pacific Center on Aging; National 
     Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development; 
     National Council of Jewish Women; National Council on Aging; 
     National Immigration Forum; National Immigration Law Center; 
     National Korean American Service & Education Consortium 
     (NAKASEC); National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty; 
     National Priorities Project; National Senior Citizens Law 
     Center; National Women's Law Center; NETWORK: A National 
     Catholic Social Justice Lobby; New Sudan Generation; 
     Northwest Health Law Advocates; Northwest Immigrant Rights 
     Project; Progressive Jewish Alliance; Religious Action Center 
     of Reform Judaism; and RESULTS.
       Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Sisters of 
     Mercy of the Americas; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center 
     (SEARAC); The AIDS Institute; The Arc of the United States; 
     The Coalition on Human Needs; The Leadership Conference of 
     Women Religious; The National Asian Pacific American Women's 
     Forum; The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children; 
     The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring; U.S. Committee for 
     Refugees and Immigrants; Unitarian Universalist Association 
     of Congregations; United Cerebral Palsy; United Jewish 
     Communities; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church 
     and Society; USAction; Wider Opportunities for Women; Women 
     of Reform Judaism; Women of Reform Judaism; World Relief; and 
     YWCA USA.

                          Local/State/Regional

       Alabama: Collat Jewish Family Services--Birmingham, 
     Alabama.
       Alaska: Alaska Center for Public Policy; Refugee Assistance 
     & Immigration Services (RAIS)--Alaska
       Arizona: Area Agency on Aging, Region One--Phoenix, AZ; 
     Arizona Advocacy Network; Jewish Family & Children's 
     Service--Tucson, Arizona; Pima Council on Aging--Tucson, AZ; 
     Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition; and United Way of 
     Tucson and Southern Arizona.
       Arkansas: Holy Angels Convent--Arkansas; St. Augustine 
     Catholic Church--North Little Rock, AR; and St. Augustine 
     Center for Children, Inc.--North Little Rock, AR.
       California: 9to5 Bay Area; 9to5 Los Angeles; ACLU of 
     Southern California; Asian Law Alliance--San Jose, CA; Asian 
     Law Caucus--Northern California; Asian Pacific American Legal 
     Center of Southern California; Bay Area Immigrant Rights 
     Coalition (BAIRC)--Oakland, CA; Bet Tzedek Legal Services--
     Los Angeles County; California Church IMPACT; California 
     Immigrant Policy Center; Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, 
     Inc; Center for Gender and Refugee Studies--San Francisco, 
     CA; City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission--Los 
     Angeles, CA; DisAbled Student Union at Pacific School of 
     Religion--Berkeley, CA; Ethiopian Community Services, Inc.--
     California; Fresno Stonewall Democrats--Fresno, CA; Gray 
     Panthers California; HomeBase--San Francisco, CA; 
     International Rescue Committee--San Diego Regional 
     Resettlement Office; and Jewish Community Federation of San 
     Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
       Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the 
     Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; Jewish Family and 
     Children's Services of the East Bay--Berkley, California; 
     Jewish Family Service of San Diego--California; Korean 
     Resouce Center, Los Angeles, CA; L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center--
     CA; Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc.--Los Angeles; Palo 
     Alto Association of Veterans of World War II, California; 
     Progressive Jewish Alliance--California; Protection and 
     Advocacy, Inc.--Sacramento, CA; Sacramento Mutual Housing 
     Association, CA; San Diego Hunger Coalition--CA; San 
     Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition--CA; Service Employees 
     International Union Local 1021--Northern California; SIREN, 
     Services, Immigrant Rights and Education

[[Page H7563]]

     Network--San Jose, CA; St. Mary's Center--Oakland, CA.
       St. Paul's Episcopal Church--San Rafael, CA; The 
     International Institute of the Bay Area--CA; The Workmen's 
     Circle/Arbeter Ring--Southern California District; and 
     Western Center on Law and Poverty--Los Angeles & Sacramento, 
     CA.
       Colorado: 9to5 Colorado; Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, a 
     project of the American Friends Service Committee; Colorado 
     Progressive Coalition; RESULTS of Aurora, Colorado; Rocky 
     Mountain Survivors Center--Denver, CO.
       Connecticut: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Norwich, Inc--
     CT; Collaborative Center for Justice, Inc.--Hartford, CT; 
     Connecticut Citizen Action Group; Connecticut Legal Services; 
     International Institute of CT, Inc.--Bridgeport, CT; Jewish 
     Family Services--Danbury, CT; People of Faith CT--West 
     Hartford, CT; and Regional Network of Programs Inc./Prospect 
     House--Bridgeport, CT.
       Florida: Catholic Charities Legal Services--Archdiocese of 
     Miami, Inc.; Catholic Charities of Central Florida; Center 
     for Independent Living of South Florida, Inc--Miami--Dade 
     County, Florida; Florida Alliance Pro--Legalization; Florida 
     Consumer Action Network; Florida Fiscal Policy Project--
     Miami, Florida; Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center; Gulfcoast 
     Legal Services, Inc--FL; Hispanic American Council, Florida 
     Alliance Pro--Legalization; Jewish Family Service Inc. of 
     Broward County--Plantation, Florida; Jewish Federation of 
     South Palm Beach County--FL; Legal Aid Society of the Orange 
     County Bar Association, Orlando, Florida; Refugee Immigration 
     Project, Jacksonville (FL) Area Legal Aid; St. Johns County 
     Legal Aid--St. Augustine, FL; The Legal Aid Society of Palm 
     Beach County, Inc; and Youth Co--Op, Inc--Florida.
       Georgia: Atlanta 9to5; Georgia Rural Urban Summit--Decatur, 
     GA; Good Shepherd Services of Atlanta; Gwinnett Ministries 
     Network--Gwinnett County, Georgia; Refugee Family Services--
     Stone Mountain, Georgia; and Women Watch Afrika, Inc, 
     Decatur, GA.
       Hawaii: Na Loio--Immigrant Rights and Public Interest Legal 
     Center--Honolulu, Hawaii.
       Idaho: Agency for New Americans--Boise, Idaho; Idaho Office 
     for Refugees; and United Vision for Idaho.
       Illinois: Citizen Action/Illinois; Commission on Religion & 
     Race--Naperville IL; Grace United Methodist Church--
     Naperville IL; Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human 
     Rights (Midwest region); Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society 
     Chicago; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; 
     Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; Korean American 
     Resource & Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Project IRENE--
     Illinois; and Protestants for the Common Good, Chicago, IL.
       Indiana: CICOA Aging & In--Home Solutions, Indianapolis, 
     IN.
       Iowa: Iowa Citizen Action Network.
       Kentucky: College Democrats of America--Morehead State 
     University Chapter; Jewish Family & Vocational Service 
     (Louisville, Kentucky); and The Community Relations Council 
     of the Jewish Community Federation of Louisville.
       Louisiana: LA Harm Reduction Coalition--Louisiana.
       Maine: Catholic Charities Maine Refugee & Immigration 
     Services--Portland, ME; Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, 
     Portland, Maine; Legal Services for the Elderly--Scarborough, 
     Maine; Maine Equal Justice Partners; Maine People's Alliance; 
     Oganizationg to Win Economic Rights--Portland, Maine; The 
     Jewish Federation of Greater Portland; Waterville Area 
     Bridges for Peace and Justice--Waterville and surrounding 
     communities.
       Maryland: Jewish Family Services--Baltimore, Maryland; 
     Maryland Association of Jews from the Former USSR; Maryland 
     Vietnamese Mutual Association Progressive Maryland; Public 
     Justice Center--Baltimore MD; and The Senior Connection of 
     Montgomery County--Silver Spring, MD.
       Massachusetts: Community Legal Services and Counseling 
     Center in Cambridge, MA; Disability Law Center, Inc.--Boston, 
     MA; First Congregational Church of Reading--Reading, MA; 
     International Rescue Committee Boston Office; JALSA--the 
     Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action--Boston; Jewish 
     Community Housing for the Elderly--Boston, MA; Jewish 
     Community Relations Council of Greater Boston; Medical-Legal 
     Partnership for Children Boston Medical Center; Strongest 
     Link AIDS Services--Essex County, MA; and The Massachusetts 
     Association of Jewish Federations.
       Michigan: ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and 
     Social Services--Dearborn; Jewish Family Service--Detroit, 
     Michigan; Jewish Family Services--Ann Arbor, Michigan; 
     Michigan Citizen Action; Oakland County Welfare Rights 
     Organization--Pontiac, MI; and The IHM Justice, Peace and 
     Sustainability Office, Michigan.
       Minnesota: Jewish Community Action, St. Paul, MN; Lutheran 
     Social Service of Minnesota; Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance; 
     National Council of Jewish Women--Minnetonka, MN; and 
     Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota.
       Missouri: Bi-Lingual International Assistant Services--St. 
     Louis, MO; Catholic Charities Archdiocese of St. Louis; 
     Jewish Vocational Service/Center for New Americans--Kansas 
     City, MO; Missouri Association for Social Welfare; Missouri 
     Budget Project--St. Louis, MO; Missouri Progressive Vote 
     Coalition; Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and 
     Associates--Missouri; and St. Louis Jewish Community 
     Relations Council--St. Louis, MO.
       Montana: Montana People's Action.
       New Hampshire: New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.
       New Jersey: Community FoodBank of New Jersey; Congregation 
     Brothers of Israel--Long Branch, New Jersey; International 
     Institute of New Jersey; Jewish Federation of Monmouth 
     County--NJ; Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New 
     Jersey; Migration and Refugee Services of the Diocese of 
     Trenton--Trenton, NJ; New Jersey Citizen Action; Temple 
     Shalom--Aberdeen, NJ; The Human Concerns/Social Justice 
     Committee of St. Anselm's Church--Wayside, NJ; The Jewish 
     Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of 
     Southern New Jersey; The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, New 
     Jersey Region; and UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey.
       New Mexico: Community Action New Mexico; Domestic Unity--
     New Mexico; Empowering Our Communities in New Mexico--
     Bernalillo, NM; New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty--
     Albuquerque, NM; New Mexico PACE; Open Hands--Sante Fe, NM; 
     and State of New Mexico's Human Services Department.
       New York: Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture--
     New York, NY; Bukharian Jewish Center, New York; Cathedral 
     Emergency Services--Syracuse, NY; Center for Independence of 
     the Disabled--New York; Citizen Action of New York; Claire 
     Heureuse Community Center, Inc--New York; Coalition of 
     Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc--New York; Community 
     Healthcare Network--New York City; Community HIV AIDS 
     Mobilization Project--CHAMP, New York; Disabled in Action of 
     Greater Syracuse, New York; Empire Justice Center, New York; 
     Episcopal Migration Ministries--NYC; Federation of Protestant 
     Welfare Agencies--New York City; JBFCS, Manhattan North 
     Community Counseling Center; Jewish Board of Family and 
     Children's Services--New York, NY; Jewish Community Council 
     of the Rockaway Peninsula--Far Rockaway, NY; Jewish Family 
     Services of NENY (Albany, New York); Legal Services for the 
     Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York, Inc.; 
     Metro New York Health Care For All Campaign; Metropolitan 
     Council on Jewish Poverty--NY; New York Association on 
     Independent Living, Inc.; New York City Department for the 
     Aging; New York Disaster Interfaith Services; New York 
     Immigration Coalition; Society of Jesus, New York Province--
     Albany, NY; Syracuse Habitat for Humanity, Inc.--NY; The 
     Central Queens YM& YWHA, Forest Hills, New York; The 
     International Institute of Buffalo, NY; The Rockland 
     Immigration Coalition--NY; UJA-Federation of New York; U.S. 
     Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Albany Field Office--
     NY; West Side Campaign Against Hunger--New York; YKASEC--
     Empowering the Korean American Community, Flushing, NY.
       North Carolina: Episcopal Migration Ministries--eastern 
     North Carolina; and North Carolina Refugee Health 
     Coordinator.
       North Dakota: NDPeople.org--North Dakota.
       Ohio: Catholic Charities Health and Human Services of the 
     Diocese of Cleveland; Greater Dayton Vietnamese Association--
     Greater Dayton, Ohio area; Jewish Family Service Association 
     of Cleveland; Jewish Family Service of Toledo, Inc.--Toledo, 
     Ohio; Jewish Family Services--Columbus, Ohio; Jewish Family 
     Services--Youngstown, Ohio; Jewish Federation of Greater 
     Dayton Jewish Community Relations Council--Dayton, Ohio; 
     Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry--Cleveland, Ohio; Ohio Jewish 
     Communities; and Refugee & Immigration Services--Columbus, 
     OH.
       Oklahoma: YWCA Multicultural Center--Tulsa, OK.
       Oregon: Asian Pacific American Community Support and 
     Service Association (APACSA)--Portland, OR; Community Action 
     Directors of Oregon (CADO); Disability Navigators Inc--
     Oregon; Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)--
     Portland, Oregon; Interfaith Action for Justice--Bend, 
     Oregon; Klamath Lake Community Action Services--Klamath 
     Falls, OR; Oregon Action; Peaceful Place--Oregon; The 
     Advocacy Coalition for Seniors and People with Disabilities--
     OR; and The Human Services Coalition of Oregon.
       Pennsylvania: HIAS and Council Migration Service of 
     Philadelphia; JCCs of Greater Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 
     Pennsylvania); JEVS Human Services--Philadelphia; JEVS Social 
     Services (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Jewish Family and 
     Children's Services (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Jewish 
     Family Service of Greater Wilkes-Barre (Wilkes-Barre, 
     Pennsylvania); Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia 
     (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Maternity Care Coalition--
     Philadelphia, PA; Mount St. Joseph--St. Elizabeth, PA; 
     National Council of Jewish Women--PA; New World Association--
     Philadelphia, PA; Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program; 
     St. Johns Lutheran Church--Lewistown, PA; and YWCA 
     Philadelphia.
       Rhode Island: National Association of Social Workers--Rhode 
     Island Chapter; and Rhode Island Ocean State Action.
       South Carolina: Columbia Jewish Federation/Jewish Family 
     Service--Columbia, SC; and Jewish Family Service (Columbia, 
     South Carolina).
       South Dakota: Systematic Theology and Christian Heritage--
     Sioux Falls, SD.

[[Page H7564]]

       Tennessee: Jewish Family Service of Nashville and Middle 
     Tennessee; and Tennessee Citizen Action.
       Texas: Catholic Charities Diocese of Ft. Worth, Inc.; 
     Jewish Family and Children's Service (San Antonio, Texas); 
     Jewish Family Service (Houston, Texas); REFUGIO DEL RIO 
     GRANDE, Inc.--San Benito, TX; South Texas Food Bank; and 
     Texas Conference United Methodist Church Board of Church & 
     Society.
       Utah: Jewish Family Service of Salt Lake; Learning Loft--
     Salt Lake Valley, Utah; Utah Community Action Partnership 
     Association; and Utah Housing Coalition.
       Vermont: Central Vermont Community Action Council; Vermont 
     Refugee Resettlement Program; and VT Affordable Housing 
     Coalition.
       Virginia: Bay Aging--Urbanna, VA; Center for Multicultural 
     Services--Falls Church, VA; Disabled Action Committee--
     Virginia; Potomac Legal Aid Society--Virginia; Rappahannock 
     Area Agency on Aging, Inc.--Fredericksburg, VA; and Union 
     Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School for Christian 
     Education--Richmond, VA.
       Washington: Asian Counseling & Referral Service--Seattle, 
     WA; Catholic Community Services of Western Washington; Jewish 
     Family Service of Seattle (Seattle, Washington); Jewish 
     Federation of Greater Seattle (Seattle, Washington); Solid 
     Ground--Seattle, WA; South Sound Outreach Services--Tacoma, 
     Washington; Washington Community Action Network; and 
     Washington Senior Citizens' Lobby--Olympia, WA.
       Washington, DC: Whitman-Walker Clinic--Washington, DC.
       West Virginia: West Virginia Citizen Action Group.
       Wisconsin: 9to5 Poverty Network Initiative (Wisconsin); 
     Citizen Action of Wisconsin; Milwaukee Association of 
     Russian-speaking Jews; Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community 
     Relations; UMOS, Inc--Milwaukee, WI; and Wisconsin Jewish 
     Conference.
                                  ____

                                          Sargent Shriver National


                                        Center on Poverty Law,

                                       Chicago, IL, June 19, 2007.
     Re: HR 2608, The SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled 
         Refugees Act.

     Hon. Jerry Weller,
     Cannon HOB,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Rep. Weller: I write to thank you for the 
     compassionate leadership you have shown in being a chief 
     cosponsor of HR 2608. This legislation provides relief to 
     elderly and disabled residents of our nation who, having 
     already endured great suffering, hardship and persecution in 
     their native lands, are now, through no fault of their own, 
     faced with destitution.
       I have been working on this issue for several years, ever 
     since the plight of these elderly and disabled refugees came 
     to light in stories like those of Iosif and Polina Katz, 
     Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union in their late 
     60s who fled the Nazi invasion and lived through iron-fisted 
     Soviet rule. (``Older refugees on verge of losing Federal 
     benefits,'' Chicago Tribune, page A1, Dec. 27, 2003). The 
     Katzes needed to become U.S. citizens by July 1, 2004 or they 
     would he terminated from SSI. Iosif, whose green card had 
     been delayed for years after immigration officials lost his 
     application, had no chance of meeting this deadline. His wife 
     Polina, whose fingerprints had to be retaken three times, was 
     also representative of the types of government delays over 
     which these vulnerable residents of our nation have no 
     control.
       Thanks again for your leadership, Rep. Weller, and please 
     let me know if we can be of any assistance in your efforts to 
     address this compelling situation.
           Sincerely,
                                                       Dan Lesser,
     Senior Attorney.
                                  ____



                               Social Security Administration,

                                     Washington DC, July 10, 2007.
     Hon. Jim McCrery,
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. McCrery: I am writing to provide the Social 
     Security Administration's (SSA) views on H.R. 2608, the SSI 
     Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act.
       SSA fully supports an extension of the time period in which 
     refugees, asylees, and certain other humanitarian categories 
     of noncitizens may remain eligible for Supplemental Security 
     Income (SSI) while seeking U.S. citizenship. The current time 
     limit is 7 years, and some aged, blind and disabled 
     individuals have been unable to obtain U.S. citizenship 
     within this time period. The Administration recognizes the 
     daunting challenges refugees have faced in fleeing tyranny, 
     the adjustments they must make in their resettlement, and 
     their need for additional help in their quest for U.S. 
     citizenship.
       Section 2 of H.R. 2608 would amend the Personal 
     Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 
     1996 to permit a 9-year period for SSI eligibility, provide 
     retroactive eligibility for refugees and asylees who 
     previously became ineligible after 7 years, and exempt the 
     general SSI prohibition for refugees and asylees with pending 
     naturalization applications. These changes would be in effect 
     from 2008-2010. This provision is similar to the 
     Administration's proposal for an extension to 8 years that 
     was in the President's budget in FY 2005, FY 2006, FY 2007 
     and FY 2008. One difference between H.R. 2608 and the 
     Administration's proposal is that the retroactive effect of 
     H.R. 2608 could require SSA to reinstate SSI payments for 
     individuals who have been off of the rolls for many years. 
     While this represents a new workload, we would like to work 
     with Congress to address the administrative burden inherent 
     with such an effort, with the overall goal of assisting aged, 
     blind, and disabled individuals in becoming U.S. citizens.
       A similar letter has been sent to the Chairman of the House 
     Ways and Means Committee.
           Sincerely,
                                                Michael J. Astrue,
                                                     Commissioner.

  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Becerra).
  Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, I want to join in this bipartisan effort to 
try to move forward legislation which is not only important but 
precious to many people in this country who are keen to be American 
citizens.
  H.R. 2608, the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act, 
is something that won't affect most Americans because most of us don't 
have to worry about this. But if you are a Russian Jew who was escaping 
persecution in the former Soviet Union, if you're one of the minority 
populations in Somalia that escaped the persecution going on there, or 
if you're a former Yugoslav who was trying to leave the devastation 
that was occurring in the former Yugoslavian countries that now have 
become part of the Balkans and the war that we saw in the Balkans, or 
if you're an Iraqi Kurd who is trying to escape the ill effects of what 
was going on during the Saddam Hussein era, then perhaps you'd 
understand why this is so important, because these are individuals who, 
because of the good graces of the American people, have an opportunity 
to start a life here, even at their late stage in life, and have an 
opportunity to recognize and appreciate our freedoms.
  But for too many of these refugees, that might all come to an end if 
we don't come to their rescue, because they did not expect that, all of 
a sudden, because of the massive waiting line there is for people who 
are applying for citizenship, legal immigrants who are applying for 
citizenship, that all of a sudden their cut off of SSI benefits would 
imperil their ability to pay their rent. Or they didn't expect that, 
all of a sudden, because of the fact that the paperwork was more 
difficult than they thought to fill out, or the fee was more expensive 
than they could afford to pay to be able to become U.S. citizens, that 
all of a sudden they run out of time with their SSI benefits.
  This bipartisan legislation strikes the right chord. It says, we 
recognize that you came to this country fleeing persecution, fleeing 
threats of death, and you're elderly or disabled, or perhaps both, and 
we need to do something to try to show you that we meant what we said 
when we were taking you in as refugees.
  I think this is legislation that really brings us together, not as 
Democrats or Republicans, not as urban Members or rural Members, but it 
brings us together as Americans who recognize there are many people 
around the world who still look at America as the beacon for the rest 
of the world. And I hope that what we are able to do here, at no 
taxpayer expense, no taxpayer expense, is to continue to show the rest 
of the world that we do extend a hand to those who are facing 
persecution.
  So I want to applaud Chairman McDermott and Ranking Member Weller for 
their great work in putting together a bipartisan bill that should 
receive the unanimous support of this House.
  Mr. WELLER of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to my friend 
and colleague from Pennsylvania (Mr. English), a member of the House 
Ways and Means Committee and someone who has led on this issue as a 
member of the Ways and Means Committee.
  Mr. ENGLISH of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of 
H.R. 2608, the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act; and 
I was particularly pleased to cosponsor this legislation. And I hope 
that all of my colleagues will join me in supporting it.
  Mr. Speaker, the United States has been a welcoming Nation to 
individuals and families fleeing oppression and tyranny in their own 
country. Repeatedly we've opened our doors to refugees

[[Page H7565]]

from places like Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Cuba, China and 
Vietnam. And more recently, we've taken in dissidents from African 
dictatorships, Islamic theocracies, the Balkans, Latin America's 
strongmen, and nations suffering from near total anarchy. We've not 
discriminated at any time according to race, religion or politics. We 
have simply asked refugees to demonstrate that they would face violence 
or oppression at home for any of these reasons, and then made them 
welcome here in a new home. This is an important part of the American 
tradition.
  Unfortunately, refugees often arrive in this country with severe 
health problems or advanced age. Many of them have spent time in prison 
or in re-education camps. Some, like the Hmong tribesmen who testified 
before our subcommittee, have shed their own blood in defense of 
American values or foreign policy and have been severely punished by 
their own governments for doing so. Often these health problems leave 
refugees with limited job prospects or ability to gain the skills 
necessary to compete for employment. This is particularly true of 
elderly refugees who may have difficulty learning English.
  As the chairman and ranking member have explained at length, under 
current law, these refugees lose their eligibility for SSI benefits, 
which is often their primary source of income, after they've lived in 
the United States for 7 years, unless they become citizens. 
Unfortunately, between the now infamous bureaucracy at the State 
Department, the difficulties of learning English, and a cap on green 
cards for refugees, many of these individuals are unable, through no 
fault of their own, to complete the immigration process in the required 
7 years.
  Mr. Speaker, we did not welcome these refugees to our shores only to 
see them starve in our streets, nor should we impose the burden of 
their support on local governments or private sector nonprofit 
organizations.

                              {time}  1630

  I am extremely proud that many of these individuals have chosen to 
make their new homes in northwestern Pennsylvania, particularly my 
hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, which enjoys a national reputation for 
welcoming refugees. But our local communities have very limited 
resources with which to assist large numbers of low-income refugees.
  H.R. 2608 wisely recognizes the Federal nature of our obligation to 
help these people build a new life. It is compassionate yet responsible 
legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in a ``yes'' 
vote.
  Mr. WELLER of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, once again, I want to thank Mr. Weller.
  Mr. Speaker, I will include in the Record documents relating to this 
legislation, including a letter from the Commissioner of Social 
Security articulating the need for this bill and an estimate from the 
Congressional Budget Office, which highlights the fact that this bill 
is completely paid for. In fact, it actually reduces the deficit by 
nearly $50 million.

                               Social Security Administration,

                                    Washington, DC, July 10, 2007.
     Hon. Charles B. Rangel,
     Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means,
     House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing to provide the Social 
     Security Administration's (SSA) views on H.R. 2608, the SSI 
     Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act.
       SSA fully supports an extension of the time period in which 
     refugees, asylees, and certain other humanitarian categories 
     of noncitizens may remain eligible for Supplemental Security 
     Income (SSI) while seeking U.S. citizenship. The current time 
     limit is 7 years, and some aged, blind, and disabled 
     individuals have been unable to obtain U.S. citizenship 
     within this time period. The Administration recognizes the 
     daunting challenges refugees have faced in fleeing tyranny, 
     the adjustments they must make in their resettlement, and 
     their need for additional help in their quest for U.S. 
     citizenship.
       Section 2 of H.R. 2608 would amend the Personal 
     Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 
     1996 to permit a 9-year period for SSI eligibility, provide 
     retroactive eligibility for refugees and asylees who 
     previously became ineligible after 7 years, and exempt the 
     general SSI prohibition for refugees and asylees with pending 
     naturalization applications. These changes would be in effect 
     from 2008-2010. This provision is similar to the 
     Administration's proposal for an extension to 8 years that 
     was in the President's budget in FY 2005, FY 2006, FY 2007 
     and FY 2008. One difference between H.R. 2608 and the 
     Administration's proposal is that the retroactive effect of 
     H.R. 2608 could require SSA to reinstate SSI payments for 
     individuals who have been off of the rolls for many years. 
     While this represents a new workload, we would like to work 
     with Congress to address the administrative burden inherent 
     with such an effort, with the overall goal of assisting aged, 
     blind, and disabled individuals in becoming U.S. citizens.
       A similar letter has been sent to Representative McCrery.
           Sincerely,
                                                Michael J. Astrue,
                                                     Commissioner.

                                             H.R. 2608--SSI EXTENSION FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED REFUGEES ACT
                                                        (By fiscal year, in millions of dollars)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                2008     2009     2010     2011     2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017    5-year  10-year
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SSI.........................................       47       50       36        0        0        0        0        0        0        0      133      133
Medicaid....................................        8        9        7        0        0        0        0        0        0        0       24       24
Unemployment comp...........................        0      -57      -57      -58      -58      -59      -60      -60      -61      -61     -230     -531
                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Total change in outlays...............       55        2      -14      -58      -58      -59      -60      -60      -61      -61      -73     -374
Change in revenues..........................        0        0       -7      -20      -35      -45      -51      -55      -56      -57      -62     -326
                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Net budgetary effect........................       55        2       -7      -38      -23      -14       -9       -5       -5       -4      -11     -48
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: Assumes enactment at the end of FY 2007. SSI and Medicaid outlays and revenues estimated by CBO; Unemployment Compensation outlays estimated by
  JCT. Components may not sum to totals because of rounding. Does not include administrative costs, which are discretionary.

  Mr. STARK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of assisting 
immigrants who Congress invited to live in the United States because 
they were being persecuted in their home countries.
  Refugees arrive in this country with little more than the clothes on 
their backs. They often have no family in the United States. For those 
immigrants who are elderly or have disabilities and cannot work, their 
sole source of income is often the meager benefits--typically around 
$600 per month--provided by the SSI program.
  Under draconian provisions of 1996's so-called ``Welfare Reform'' 
law, refugess and asylees can only receive SSI benefits for a maximum 
of 7 years. To date, this law has caused more than 12,000 elderly and 
disabled humanitarian immigrants to lose their benefits and face hunger 
and homelessness. The Social Security Administration has estimated that 
an additional 40,000 individuals will be terminated from assistance in 
the next 10 years if the law is not changed. Leaving immigrants, who 
have suffered so much and come to the United States in search of 
protection, destitute with no means of support is unconscienable.
  Current law assumes that refugees and asylees can complete the 
lengthy and expensive citizenship process within 7 years and continue 
receiving benefits. For most refugees there is a mandatory 5-year 
waiting period before they can even apply for citizenship. With 
application backlogs that regularly near 1 million, becoming 
naturalized within 7 years is a longshot at best. Acquiring the skills 
needed to pass the citizenship test, such as English language 
proficiency, may be impossible for immigrants with severe disabilities.
  The SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act (H.R. 2608) 
takes the common sense and compassionate approach of temporarily 
extending the time limit by 2 years. This will provide relief to 
thousands of individuals facing the loss of their sole source of 
support.
  While this bill is the best we can do given the present fiscal 
environment, we should move toward completely removing the time limits. 
Doing so would bring us into compliance with International Conventions 
requiring nations to accord lawful refugees the same access to public 
benefits that they allow their own citizens. In addition, it would 
build on our Nation's tradition of opening our borders to immigrants 
escaping persecution and suffering.

[[Page H7566]]

  I urge my colleagues to support this important bill, but I hope 
everyone recognizes that this bill only represents a partial fix.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Washington (Mr. McDermott) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 2608.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________