A broad bill for immigration reform in the United States could be introduced to the Senate as early as next week following the news that negotiators have managed to agree on one of the trickiest aspects of the deal, that of creating a US visa system for temporary workers.
Differences between labor unions and business over the creation of US visas for low-skilled guest workers had been threatening to put a spoke in the entire deal, just as it did in the last effort made by Congress to try to overhaul the country’s broken immigration system six years ago back in 2007. However, over the weekend the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO union, assisted by the senators who are charged with crafting the bill, managed to overcome this hurdle by reaching an agreement about a new kind of visa.
“We expect that this new program, which benefits not just business but everyone, will promote long overdue reforms by raising the bar for existing programs,” says the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka. The parties involved were in disagreement about the issue of “future flows,” the question about the number of guest workers that could be allowed into the US in order to relieve shortages in labor as well as into which industries and the level of pay they would be granted.
In regards to US visas, the senators have come up with a new “W” visa classification for guest workers in industries such as housekeeping and landscaping, with 20,000 workers to be allowed in from April 1st, rising to 75,000 over four years and then fluctuating according to need.