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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.