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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9308
JPY
USD
119.56
GBP
USD
0.6635
CAD
USD
1.2242
INR
USD
62.945

Rates may not be current.