Business, labor groups reach immigration deal

WASHINGTON Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:29pm EDT

1 of 2. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) answers questions during a news conference following their tour of the Arizona-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona March 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Samantha Sais

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prospects for a broad U.S. immigration overhaul brightened on Saturday after major U.S. business and labor groups reached an agreement on a guest-worker program, a source familiar with the deal said.

The agreement was reached on Friday night in a conference call between the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, and the president of the AFL-CIO labor organization, Richard Trumka, with New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer acting as the mediator, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A guest-worker program has been a major stumbling block to efforts by a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight to reach a compromise on a way to create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom are Hispanics.

Labor unions have argued against a guest-worker program, worrying that a flood of low-wage immigrant laborers would take away jobs from Americans. The agreement covers the pay levels for low-skilled temporary workers and the types of jobs that would be included.

Schumer briefed White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Saturday on the breakthrough, the source said.

The agreement still must be approved by the Gang of Eight senators, four Democrats and four Republicans. If they do so as expected, Senate legislation on a broad new immigration law would be advanced in the Senate in the coming weeks.

In recent days, the immigration effort had been stalled by failure to forge an agreement on the guest-worker program, although the White House insisted that progress was being made.

President Barack Obama wants to fulfill a campaign pledge by gaining passage of a law that would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently in the country. He has vowed to do what he can on immigration through executive actions in the absence of legislation.

Immigration long has been a controversial issue in the United States and previous efforts to craft a comprehensive overhaul of American immigration laws have failed, with Democrats and Republicans remaining far apart.

Many Republicans previously had taken a hard position against illegal immigrants. Obama's unsuccessful Republican challenger last year, Mitt Romney, had advocated "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants. Republicans in Arizona and other states passed tough laws cracking down on illegal immigrants.

But the mood for a deal is ripe because Republicans saw Hispanic Americans vote overwhelmingly for Obama and other Democratic candidates in last November's elections and they need to woo this increasingly important voting bloc.

Many Republicans see gaining favor with the Hispanic voting bloc, which accounts for 10 percent of the U.S. electorate and is growing, as a matter of political survival.

Republicans want to ensure that security along the U.S.-Mexican border is improved before immigrants can get on a path to citizenship. Obama feels security is sufficient but this disagreement is not seen as a deal-breaker.

"We're seeing right now a good bipartisan spirit," Obama told Spanish-language network Univision on Wednesday. "I want to encourage that and hopefully we'll be able to get it done."

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (9)
Harry079 wrote:
“The agreement was reached on Friday night between the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, and the president of the AFL-CIO labor organization, Richard Trumka, with New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer acting as the mediator”

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. But they are all evil.

Mar 30, 2013 4:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Big2Tex wrote:
There is already a pathway for citizenship. Always has been and there is nothing wrong with it. Attach a voter ID to the immigration reform package and watch the voter fraud supporting dems cry.

Mar 30, 2013 5:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Senator Schumer acting as mediator? Schumer long ago sold out to big business. Senator Schumer is the greatest enemy of the American middle class worker.

Immigration is destroying the American middle class.

Why does America even have a military? America has abandoned its own duty to maintain its own borders.

Labor, like any economic resource, obeys the law of supply and demand. If you dump labor into a market, it drives down the wage-rate.

The plain fact is that immigration into any modern country has two serious, lethal effects on the native-born citizens:

1. Immigration sharply drives down wage rates.
2. Immigration sharply drives up housing costs (rent rates).

Thus employers and landlords benefit from immigration.
Thus common workers are greatly harmed by immigration.

Immigration over the past 12 years caused more destruction of the American middle class than any other factor.

All other nations in the world, COMBINED, do not allow the levels of immigration that America is experiencing. It is the largest movement of human beings in the history of the world.

America’s leaders are criminals for allowing it to happen. And that includes the current senators and President. They are both owned by the wealthy class and multinational corporations.

The real question is, Why does American even have a military when we allow foreign nations to invade us by immigration?

Mar 30, 2013 6:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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