Immigration Reform: AFL-CIO, US Chamber Of Commerce Come To A Meeting Of The Minds On Guest Workers

  on
Immigration Reform Rally
Demonstrators protest during an immigration reform rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

With the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce both apparently agreeing to support a key element of the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration-reform effort in the Senate Friday evening, it is an astonishingly good bet the issue will provide plenty of fodder for commentators on at least one of the talk shows Sunday morning.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the eight members of a bipartisan group of senators seeking to overhaul the country’s immigration system, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue all indicated representatives of labor and business had come to a meeting of the minds on the outline of a new visa program for lowly skilled immigrant workers who want jobs in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.

The approach to a guest-worker visa program had been a major potential roadblock, so the accord between labor and business could help the immigration-reform effort win the support not only of all or most of the members of the bipartisan group of senators but also of a majority of their colleagues in the Senate because it would give legislators cover on both left and right flanks.

Besides Schumer, the bipartisan group of senators consists of Jeff Flake and John McCain, both R-Ariz.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Schumer briefed White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the apparent agreement Saturday.

“The president continues to be encouraged by progress being made by the bipartisan group of Senators,” the Journal quoted White House representative Clark Stevens as saying. “We look forward to seeing language once it is introduced, and expect legislation to move forward as soon as possible.”

The Senate is currently in recess, so the earliest any legislation could be introduced would be April 8.

Meanwhile, representatives of labor and business appear to have conflicting views of their apparent agreement, the Washington Post reported.

“We have created a new model, a modern visa system that includes both a bureau to collect and analyze labor market data, as well as significant worker protections,” the Post quoted Trumka as saying in a statement Saturday night. In the statement, he also said the AFL-CIO continued to support the overall immigration-reform effort, encompassing a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants.

In contrast, one source told the Post Saturday afternoon that the lead negotiators on the business side had not yet seen written details of a final agreement and warned that declaring the matter resolved was premature: “Business groups are still waiting to see the details. … I don’t want to blow this up at all, but to say everyone’s signed off on this is getting ahead of ourselves.”

Which means host David Gregory will have plenty to talk about with guests Flake and Schumer on NBC's “Meet the Press” Sunday morning.

Join the Discussion