(NEW YORK) — Business and labor leaders agreed on Saturday to a deal on the guest worker program, signalling a key development in the debate over immigration reform.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., briefed Dennis McDonough, White House chief of staff, on the agreement on Saturday. According to the New York Times, the agreement was reached on a Friday evening conference call between Schumer, Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Richard L. Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s main federation of labor unions.
Pay for guest workers was reportedly one of the final sticking points in a deal, and a solution was worked out on the conference call that ensures guest workers will receive the higher of the prevailing industry wage as determined by the labor department and the actual employer wage, according to the New York Times.
The deal will start by allowing 20,000 new visas each year and could eventually grow to as many as 200,000 per year. Guest workers would also be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship. Before the agreement is made official, the eight senators who had been negotiating the deal — often referred to as the Gang of Eight — must sign off before the end of the weekend, says the New York Times.
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Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Cimaron Neugebauer, KUTV
Herb Scribner, Deseret News
Ruth Brown and Lis Stewart, Idaho Press-Tribune