The AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce have been working together to find common ground on comprehensive immigration reform. This morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue released this statement on the groups’ shared immigration reform principles.
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 U.S. 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.
Specifically, we agree that the following principles should guide legislation in the complicated and important area of addressing lesser-skilled immigration to our country:
First, American workers should have a first crack at available jobs. To that end, business and labor are committed to improving the way that information about job openings in lesser-skilled occupations reaches the maximum number of workers, particularly those in disadvantaged communities.
Read the rest of the principles here.