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Senators close in on immigration deal

March 22, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2013, file photo, before the New York skyline, a group of immigrant rights advocates gather near Ellis Island in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J. A dispute between business and labor groups over wages for low-skilled workers is a final issue holding up a deal on a sweeping immigration bill in the Senate on Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A last-minute dispute over wages for lower-skilled workers flared Friday as senators scrambled to sketch out a deal on a sweeping immigration bill before Congress takes a two-week recess.

The public clash between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO underscored the high stakes involved in legislation that would dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration and employment landscape, putting 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship while allowing tens of thousands of new high- and low-skilled workers into the country.

The chamber and AFL-CIO, negotiating through the so-called Gang of Eight senators, had reached significant agreement on a new visa program to bring up to 200,000 lower-skilled workers a year to the country. The number of visas would fluctuate according to demand, and the workers would be able to change jobs and could seek permanent residency.

But the AFL-CIO was pushing for higher wages for the workers than the chamber had agreed to so far.

The dispute remained unsettled into the night, with chamber officials Login to read more

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