House bill to have more stringent immigrant controls: aides

WASHINGTON Fri May 17, 2013 6:22pm EDT

A group of illegal immigrants, who handed themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol, sit in a restaurant in Encino, Texas March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A group of illegal immigrants, who handed themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol, sit in a restaurant in Encino, Texas March 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan plan brokered in the House of Representatives will be tougher on illegal immigrants living in the United States than a Senate counterpart, congressional aides said on Friday.

But it fails to address the difficult issue of how many low-skilled foreign workers should be allowed into the country.

Late on Thursday, the eight Republican and Democratic House negotiators working on an immigration bill announced that they had successfully wrapped up a four-year effort and had hammered out a tentative deal.

Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, one of the negotiators, told reporters on Friday that he was "confident" that the deal will get a full airing in the House Judiciary Committee that has oversight of immigration policy.

Many Republican members of that panel are opposed to moving a comprehensive bill and instead want to take smaller steps to further bolster U.S. borders against illegal crossings and to improve access for foreign high-skilled workers.

While the lawmakers themselves refused to discuss details, which will be translated into legislative language over the next week or two, some congressional aides familiar with the plan sketched out bits of the agreement on Friday.

According to those aides, the House measure, as expected, will set a 15-year path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented residents, many of whom have been in the United States for years and are raising families here.

The Senate bill, which is now being debated in that chamber's Judiciary Committee, sets a 13-year time frame.

Like the Senate bill, those illegal immigrants who are serving in the military or who were brought over the border as children with their parents, would be put on a faster path to citizenship. But details were not available.

The Service Employees International Union said the tentative deal showed that momentum for immigration legislation was building. Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the 2.1 million-member union, added that it was "the responsibility of the House leadership to ensure this bipartisanship continues."

UNRESOLVED DISPUTE

Congressional aides confirmed that the negotiators failed to agree on one of the most contentious issues in immigration reform efforts: the future flow of workers from abroad that American firms want to hire as construction workers, hotel maids, waiters and for other low-skilled jobs.

Instead, if and when a comprehensive immigration bill reaches the full House, Democrats and Republicans will offer competing amendments to try to resolve the matter, according to aides. Republicans control the House by a narrow majority.

The bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate relies on a low-skilled worker program that was worked out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO labor organization.

That deal has been criticized by some business interests as providing too few slots for foreign workers hoping to apply for American construction jobs. Labor unions have been pushing hard for stringent controls, saying a flood of foreign workers would displace domestic job-seekers.

Aides said that the House deal also would be more stringent than the Senate bill by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to achieve new border security measures before the 11 million undocumented immigrants could begin moving into legal status.

The Senate effort requires DHS to pursue tough border security measures. But the 11 million would be able to move almost immediately to temporary legal status.

However, in at least one area, the House measure might be viewed as more progressive than the Senate bill, according to an aide.

"People will find the family reunification (provision) is better under the House plan than the Senate plan," the aide said. Like the Senate bill, the House deal eliminates an avenue for siblings living abroad to win visas.

But the aide said the House bill will grant more leeway than its Senate counterpart on granting visas to adult offspring of U.S. residents.

One of the last areas of disagreement among the House negotiators had to do with whether newly legalized residents would be able to participate in President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

Republicans want to include a provision specifying that they would have to buy their own health insurance.

It was not yet clear how that dispute was worked out.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (15)
Speaker2 wrote:
Let use a simple benchmark, immigrates must have better job skills than Republican and Tea Party Congressman. Of course this means all immigrates will pass. Seeing that Republicans have only two skill sets, grid-lock and keep voting to repeal Obama care.

May 17, 2013 4:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flyjess wrote:
why are we taking in any more people at all???? this government can’t govern the people already here and you want 20-30 million more??? no more people til traffic gets better!!!! 1.5% gdp growth selling more toilet paper and diapers doesn’t help our quality of life!!!!

May 17, 2013 5:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Immigration today is destroying America.

American factories are being closed every day. There are millions of unemployed Americans. In March in America there were 1,337 mass layoffs – job cuts involving at least 50 workers, totalling 127,939 workers.

To solve this, America should remain a FREE MARKET culture, and stop immigration completely. America for Americans.

What does a free market mean? That means if there aren’t enough people available to harvest tomatoes or pound nails, or drive trucks, then the free-market wage rate will rise naturally, and very quickly, to a point that gives great incentive to do that particular kind of work.

If there aren’t enough people available to program computers, then the wage rate for programming computers will rise naturally and quickly to a level that entices young people in college to get a degree in computer programming.

If there is a surplus of people seeking a particular kind of work, then the wage rates will fall do a level that balances the supply and demand.

Immigration during todays time of massive unemployment drives down wage rates and throws Americans into the welfare system.

It’s time to take Americans off the welfare system and put them back to work, which is what they want. The free-market will do it quickly if only the illegal aliens can be deported.

May 17, 2013 6:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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