The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have reached an agreement on the temporary guest worker program component of the Senate’s 'Gang of Eight' immigration reform legislation, clearing the last hurdle to its introduction next week when the Senate returns. The New York Times reports that under the agreement, guest low-skill workers would be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship and to change jobs after they arrived.
According to officials with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the program would start at 20,000 visas, rising to 35,000 visas in the second year, 55,000 in the third and 75,000 in the fourth. In the fifth year, the program would expand or shrink based on the unemployment rate, the ratio of job openings to unemployed workers and various other factors. The agreement calls for a maximum of 200,000 guest visas granted each year.
One third of all visas available in any given year would go to businesses with fewer than 25 employees. No more than 15,000 visas per year would go to construction occupations.
The Senate group's immigration reform proposal is billed to provide a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country while taking steps to secure the nation's border. As 'Gang of Eight' Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer promoted the agreement over the weekend, colleague Marco Rubio pumped the breaks.
“I’m encouraged by reports of an agreement between business groups and unions on the issue of guest workers,” Rubio said in a statement released Sunday. “However, reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature."
On 'Real News' Monday the panel discussed the potential agreement and whether or not it will be effective.