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Recently, there was much ado about a National ID card and biometrics program spelling doom for comprehensive immigration reform, especially when the American Civil Liberties Union and privacy rights advocates came out firing against it. This week, news of a temporary worker program in the Schumer-Graham blueprint threatens the labor-business unity of the Reform Immigration for America coalition.
To be fair, coming up with a solution for the future flow of workers has always been the hardest and often the breaking point of negotiations concerning immigration reform. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce insists on a temporary foreign worker solution to labor shortages, whereas the AFL-CIO does not see this as a feasible approach given the 10% unemployment rate with economic recovery nowhere in sight.
In a press statement last Friday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated that “if immigration reform is to have any chance of passing this year, the Chamber of Commerce is going to have to abandon its insistence on the creation of a new temporary worker program and embrace a solution based on real employment needs. A new temporary worker program in today’s economy would be political suicide, and the Chamber must know that.”
Several sources confirm that rank and file union members are not on board with a comprehensive immigration solution that, in their opinion, threatens American jobs, or creates a temporary worker program without a pathway to citizenship.
Officially, AFL-CIO does support improvement to the administration of temporary worker programs, if not their expansion. Yet, AFL-CIO remains committed to immigration reform and given that the political window of opportunity is so small, there is a lot of incentive to hatch out a compromise all parties can support.
In the best scenario, labor and business advocates can compromise on supporting an immigration solution that regulates the future flow of workers in line with economic needs.
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