One disagreement that nearly derailed the Senate's Gang of Eight immigration reform legislation was the number of low-skilled guest worker visas to be issued. In the end, organized labor and business, represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were able to reach an agreement. The Senate bill is nearing the end of mark-up; amendments by the Judiciary Committee should be forwarded to the full Senate by the end of this month. Both the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the bill.
The House of Representatives is another story. The House bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill is being drafted. Virtually no details are known. However, it appears Republicans are not happy with the agreement reached between the Chamber of Commerce and organized labor. What is normally a friendly relationship between Republicans and business now appears to be shaky.
The agreement between business and labor calls for:
— That American workers are offered jobs before they go to new immigrants
— The creation of a new worker visa
— The creation of a new federal bureau that would make determinations about the labor needs in the U.S.
These provisions are included in the Senate bill. The number of guest worker visas has been set at a maximum of 200,000. According to sources, it is this number that has GOP House members upset. What number House Republicans are looking for has not been made public. Rumors say it is much greater.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and former GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) support comprehensive immigration reform. The House of Representatives should not allow a disagreement over guest worker visas to prevent the bill from reaching the floor. In the end, the number of guest worker visas available will be determined by a conference committee.