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US House panel bars benefits for Gitmo detainees

Republicans vote to ensure Guantanamo Bay detainees do not receive US immigration benefits if they are released.

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In this photo reviewed by the U.S. military, a Guantanamo detainee speaks with guards in the Camp six detention facility on Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba, Sunday, May 31, 2009.

Brennan Linsley, Pool/AP

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Republicans on a key House of Representatives panel won a vote Friday to make doubly sure that Guantanamo Bay detainees will not be given immigration benefits that would allow them to stay in the United States if they are released.

The 34-24 vote was the latest step in which lawmakers have gone on record against allowing detainees at the detention center in Cuba into the United States other than for the purpose of going on trial. Republicans said the provision is aimed at making sure detainees who are released before their trials or are found innocent cannot stay in the United States.

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Democrats said the language approved Friday is similar to a provision in the pending war funding bill facing floor votes next week that would take effect as soon as Obama signs the measure. But the war funding measure's restrictions would be in force only through Sept. 30. The measure approved Friday would extend it far beyond that date.

The House panel's plan, by Rep. Harold Rogers, a Republican, would block the government from providing "any immigration benefit" to Guantanamo detainees. It was amended to clarify that bringing detainees in for their trials is permitted.