Business and labour groups have cleared a major hurdle in the path to overhauling the nation’s immigration system, according to multiple reports, clearing the way for comprehensive immigration reform legislation to be introduced when Congress is back in session.
According to the reports, the powerful business and labour groups reached a deal on a guest-worker program for low-skilled immigrants. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer mediated the deal between AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Tom Donohue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
A guest-worker program had been the biggest hurdle toward comprehensive immigration reform. labour unions have been against too broad of a guest-worker program, fearing that it would take away jobs from Americans.
The agreement means that the so-called bipartisan “Gang of 8” Senators could introduce immigration legislation when Congress reconvenes in April.
The agreement resolved what the pay level should be for low-skilled immigrants — often employed at hotels and restaurants or on construction projects — who could be brought in during labour shortages.
labour groups wanted to ensure that guest workers would not be paid any less than the median wage in their respective industries, and the two sides compromised by agreeing that guest workers would be paid the higher of the prevailing industry wage as determined by the labour Department or the actual employer wage.
Under the deal, guest workers would be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship and to change jobs after they arrived in the United States.
Two of the Senators in the so-called “Gang of 8” — Schumer and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will be on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning.
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