August 9, 2011 LETTER — LIRS Applauds the Introduction of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Extension for Refugees

Press Contact: Fabio Lomelino, Assistant Director for Media Relations
410-230-2721, lirspress@lirs.org

The Honorable Jim McDermott
U.S. House of Representatives
1035 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
U.S. House of Representatives
2206 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representatives McDermott and Ros-Lehtinen:

On behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, we thank you for introducing H.R. 2763, legislation to extend for two years Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance for refugees and other humanitarian migrants who are elderly or have disabilities.

Refugees resettled in the United States face a unique set of obstacles to integration and becoming U.S. citizens. These challenges are more significant for older refugees or refugees with physical or mental disabilities as they have a heightened difficulty learning English, struggle to cover the costs of the citizenship application fee (often equivalent to one month’s SSI payment), and suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues. By having more time to work towards U.S. citizenship, H.R. 2763 would prevent vulnerable refugees from losing this critical assistance on September 30, 2011.

LIRS applauds your work on this important topic and we look forward to working with you to build support for the bill. Please feel free to contact Eric B. Sigmon, LIRS Director for Advocacy, at (202) 626-7943 or via email at esigmon@lirs.org with any additional questions.

Yours in faith,

Linda Hartke
President and CEO
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service