News / Economy

US Business, Labor Agree on Immigration Deal

After stringent state immigration laws took effect, sweet potato farmer Casey Smith, right, is short on temporary laborers, Cullman, Ala., Sept. 29, 2011.
After stringent state immigration laws took effect, sweet potato farmer Casey Smith, right, is short on temporary laborers, Cullman, Ala., Sept. 29, 2011.
The two biggest labor and business lobbying groups in the United States have reached an unexpected consensus on how they would want Congress to manage entry of low-skilled foreign workers into the U.S., a top priority in the push to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.
 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO announced their agreement Thursday, ending a weeks-long impasse that threatened to delay reform efforts.
 
The groups, which are often at odds in their bids to represent workers’ and corporate interests, agreed on three proposed points. First, they said, American workers should have the first chance at available jobs; second, U.S. laws should permit businesses to easily and efficiently hire foreign workers; and, third, an independent bureau should be established to track labor markets and demographics.
 
The first point is a kind of victory for the AFL-CIO, which says it is trying to protect American workers from having their jobs filled by foreigners who may be willing to work for lower wages.
 
Ana Avendano, the AFL-CIO’s director of immigration and chief negotiator in the talks, said jobs are often intentionally hidden from U.S. workers by corporations that discretely advertise them in newspapers or websites “no one looks at.”
 
“These jobs become hidden jobs, and when they’re filled, they’re filled with [foreign] workers who are indentured to an employer," she said. "They can’t move around. Their only choice is to be deported or go home with a heavy debt” to labor recruiters.

A tenet of the agreement, if written into new legislation, would help those foreign workers along a path to permanent U.S. residency.
 
“Among other things, this requires a new kind of worker visa program that does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status,” the groups said in a joint-statement.
 
According to Avendano, foreign workers should be allowed to self-petition for a Green Card under the new program.
 
“We’re proposing a visa program that doesn’t exist right now," she said. "We didn’t want to recreate mistakes of the past.”
 
U.S. President Barack Obama has made immigration reform a priority for his second and final term in office. On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney would not say whether the president supports such a visa program, but he did call the agreement encouraging.
 
"We see this agreement on principles as a positive development, a sign of progress," Carney said. "But I'm not going to prejudge a bill that has not been written."
 
A bipartisan working group of senators is hoping to introduce new immigration legislation next month. The lawmakers had urged the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce to overcome their differences to try to avoid future delays by the powerful lobbies.
 
Immigration is a controversial issue in the U.S. — one that not only divides Democrats and Republicans, but pits factions within each party against each other.
 
The Republican Party represents working and middle class voters who worry about losing their jobs to foreigners, as well as big corporations that need cheap labor to keep profits up. It is also courting much-needed Latino votes, which helped Democrats win the 2012 national elections. In turn, the Democratic Party is balancing demands of both Latino voters and labor unions worried about guest workers, many of whom are from Latin American countries.
 
In their joint statement, the business and labor representatives cautioned that they are “now in the middle — not the end — of this process,” but they pledged to continue to work together and with Congress.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9084
JPY
USD
122.73
GBP
USD
0.6431
CAD
USD
1.2639
INR
USD
63.444

Rates may not be current.