EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

April 1, 2013

'Path to citizenship' bill not yet completed

(Continued)

The detente between the nation’s leading labor federation and the powerful business lobbying group still needs senators’ approval, including a nod from Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican whose previous efforts came up short.

“I think we’re on track. . But as Sen. Rubio correctly says, we have said we will not come to final agreement till we look at all of the legislative language and he’s correctly pointing out that that language hasn’t been fully drafted,” Schumer said.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also noted the significance of the truce between labor and business but added that this wasn’t yet complete.

“That doesn’t mean we’ve crossed every ‘i’ or dotted every ‘t,’ or vice versa,” said Flake, who is among the eight lawmakers working on the deal.

Schumer negotiated the deal between AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue during a late-Friday phone call. Under the compromise, the government would create a new “W’’ visa for low-skill workers who would earn wages paid to Americans or the prevailing wages for the industry they’re working in, whichever is higher. The Labor Department would determine prevailing wage based on customary rates in specific localities, so that it would vary from city to city.

The proposed measure would secure the border, crack down on employers, improve legal immigration and create a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants already here.

It’s a major second-term priority of President Barack Obama’s and would usher in the most dramatic changes to the faltering U.S. immigration system in more than two decades.

“This is a legacy item for him. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said David Axelrod, a longtime political confidant of Obama.

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