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US Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO Release Shared Principles on Immigration Reform


donohue trumkaA major development on immigration reform today between labor and business: Today, US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released this joint statement of shared principles today.  Their joint statement reads:

The United States will always be a nation of immigrants who have contributed greatly to the vitality, diversity, and creativity of American life.  Yet, like the rest of America’s immigration system, the mechanisms for evaluating our labor market needs and admitting foreign workers – as well as recruiting US workers – for temporary and permanent jobs are broken or non-existent.  Current immigration policies are rigid, cumbersome and inefficient.   What is needed is the creation of a professional bureau in a federal executive agency to inform Congress and the public about these issues together with a system that  provides for lesser-skilled visas that respond to employers’ needs while protecting the wages and working conditions of lesser-skilled workers – foreign or domestic.  Current efforts at comprehensive immigration reform present a unique and historic opportunity for American workers and businesses to work together to fix this aspect of the badly broken system.

Over the last months, representatives of business and labor have been engaged in serious discussions about how to fix the system in a way that benefits both workers and employers, with a focus on lesser-skilled occupations.  We have found common ground in several important areas, and have committed to continue to work together and with Members of Congress to enact legislation that will solve our current problems in a lasting manner…

We are now in the middle – not the end – of this process, and we pledge to continue to work together and with our allies and our representatives on Capitol Hill to finalize a solution that is in the interest of this country we all love.

You can read the full statement—with its enunciation of principles—here. It’s very welcome and demonstrates continued momentum for reform–and it contradicts recent reports that negotiations between labor and business had stalled.

Alabama’s junior Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), one of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress, almost immediately criticized the release, calling the shared principles “internally inconsistent and contradictory.”  His condemnation, by the way, came just a day after he told a constituent that “we’re going to debate” immigration reform, and “struggle through this issue to find answers.”

Sounds more to us like he’s instead doing what he’s always done—obstructing progress.