Former Soviet Union emigration still up

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JERUSALEM — Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein said Monday that the drop in emigration from the former Soviet Union, which some had predicted would be as high as 20 percent to 25 percent this year, is "in the process of easing up" and would be only about 11 percent for the period from January to September.

Edelstein said he expects some 60,000 new immigrants next year, and that the number of immigrants may be affected by reports that the United States is considering doing away with the refugee status granted to Jews from the former Soviet Union.

A ministry spokesman said that while such a decision has not yet been made, there is some pressure in U.S. government circles in that direction. The United States let in about 35,000 Jews with this status last year, the spokesman said.

Immigration through the first nine months of the year was 46,950. Of that figure, 37,300 came from the former Soviet Union. A total of about 60,000 immigrants are expected by the end of the year.

Edelstein rejected claims that the immigrants coming are "old and uneducated," saying that the majority are young people.

Unemployment among new immigrants is 11percent to 12 percent, as bad overall as it is in the worst pockets of Israel, Edelstein said.

He added that some 10,000 businesses have been started by immigrants, creating 30,000 jobs. About 4,300 housing solutions were found for new immigrants in the past year, he said.