In a statement to Telemundo on March 27, President Barack Obama said that the historic immigration reform bill could be in place by summer of this year, and that any last-minute issues are “resolvable” by Congress. In this immigration reform proposal, Obama has given responsibilities almost entirely to Congress from start to finish, saying that a bill crafted by Capitol Hill stands a better chance of winning Republican support than one overtly influenced by the president. Obama said that he will only step in with his own bill if it’s necessary.
“If we have a bill introduced at the beginning of next month as these senators indicate it will be, then I’m confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer,” Obama said.
One of the issues that Obama deemed resolvable is the debate over wages for low-income workers. According to Reuters, the issue in question is the distribution of work visas to new immigrant workers and the wages that they will ultimately receive. The proposal stated that these visas will only be issued if they do not drive down the wages of those doing the same job in the United States, but arguments as to what these wages will be is becoming a stalemate in the reform process. A draft proposal is expected to be released when Congress returns from a two-week recess on April 8.
Although there is disagreement between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) regarding wages, they have reached significant agreements on a new visa program that would bring up to 200,000 low-skilled workers to the country each year, according to Fox News.
“We’re very hopeful that we’re moving,” Ana Avendano, a lead AFL-CIO negotiator, told reporters after a briefing for congressional staff on temporary worker programs.
Avendano said that the chamber had moved off what she termed as its insistence on “poverty-level wages” for the new workers.