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Recipients of Amnesty to Retain Housing Aid

December 24, 1987|CARLA RIVERA | Times Staff Writer

Last-minute legislation approved by Congress will allow amnesty recipients to continue receiving housing benefits, a move applauded Wednesday by local officials who had feared that redevelopment projects would be jeopardized.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service had proposed barring amnesty recipients from receiving benefits from about 40 health, education and welfare programs for five years, including Section 8 housing aid from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, community development block grants and rental housing-assistance aid.

Local housing officials and immigrant-rights activists had feared the regulation would prevent cities from using federal money to help relocate tenants displaced by redevelopment projects, threatening a number of rehabilitation plans in the area, including the Karcher-Barry project in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Anaheim.

Local Officials Act

Local officials, including Reps. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) and Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson, had lobbied the INS to delay imposing the regulations until Congress had a chance to consider amendments.

The legislation approved by Congress Tuesday makes amnesty recipients eligible for a full range of housing benefits, including Section 8 housing aid--a rent-subsidy program used by many cities--rental supplements and home-ownership grants, according to Brian Bennett, Dornan's chief of staff.

In fact, Bennett said the congressional legislation is much broader than was anticipated. Bennett said Dornan had advocated exemptions only for those immigrants displaced through "government-initiated actions" such as rehabilitation projects.

The current legislation allows housing benefits for all amnesty recipients. In addition, illegal aliens who do not quality for amnesty may receive housing benefits on a case-by-case basis for up to three years, Bennett said.

"It certainly goes much further than we would have wanted," Bennett said. "But a compromise is a compromise, and we are generally positive about the outcome.

"What will probably happen now is that the INS will postpone publishing the regulations so they can modify language that amends housing provisions. We (in Congress) will be following up to make sure that is done," he added.

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