Business and labor make breakthrough in immigration talks
The nation’s largest labor federation and Washington’s biggest business lobby have been holding talks for weeks on how to fix temporary worker programs. It’s a sticky issue that split unions during the last major push for immigration reform in 2007 and helped doom the effort in Congress.
In a lengthy joint statement, the two groups agreed to a set of three principles for temporary workers and advocated for the creation of an independent agency to determine when and where foreign workers are needed.
First, the AFL-CIO and the Chamber agreed that U.S. workers should get “the first crack” at available jobs. Second, they agreed that there are times where U.S. employers will need foreign workers. And third, the immigration process needs to be fixed with a transparent, data-based solution.
In the end, business and labor believe a new agency in the executive branch could provide that solution.
UPDATE: Republican leaders to block US immigration measure
5/16 Associated Press By ERICA WERNER and DONNA CASSATA
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders intervened Friday to prevent a vote on U.S. immigration legislation, dealing a severe blow to election-year efforts to overhaul the widely denigrated system.
The move came after a Republican congressman announced plans to try to force a vote next week, over strong conservative opposition, on his measure creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who live here illegally yet serve in the military.
In response, Doug Heye, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said: “No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order.”
Heye said no stand-alone vote on the measure would be permitted, either.
It was the latest setback for President Barack Obama’s efforts to move comprehensive immigration legislation through Congress to boost border security, remake legal worker programs and offer legal status to the estimated 11.5 million people now living here illegally. The Senate passed an immigration bill last year, but it’s been stalled in the Republican-led House.
Friday’s developments seemed to all but rule out anything happening on the issue this year in the House, if even Denham’s limited measure could not advance. Despite a wide coalition of business, labor, religious groups, farmers and others pushing for an immigration overhaul, many individual Republican House members who represent largely white districts have been unmoved.
Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner and other House Republican leaders have insisted they want to advance immigration legislation, though they’ve rejected the Senate’s comprehensive bill. Chances have always looked slim, but the White House and outside advocates saw a window for action over the next several months, before Congress’ August recess and November midterm elections.
Denham’s measure was widely popular and seen as perhaps the likeliest area for compromise.
But in recent weeks prominent conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, announced their opposition. Heritage Action, the group’s political arm, announced it would include the vote in its ratings on lawmakers and called Denham’s legislation “deplorable.”
Cantor himself faces a primary election challenge in the state of Virginia June 10 from a tea party opponent who has criticized the majority leader for not being conservative enough and accused him of supporting amnesty for immigrants living here illegally.
America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country.
“Together we can build a fair, effective and common sense immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”
The President’s plan builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and cracks down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. It’s a plan that requires anyone who’s undocumented to get right with the law by paying their taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing background checks before they can be eligible to earn citizenship. It requires every business and every worker to play by the same set of rules.
There are four principles to the President’s common sense proposal:
“So if we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.”
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