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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.