Fiscal worry could sideline US immigration reform

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SummaryPresident Barack Obama's re-election this month gave supporters of comprehensive immigration reform an immediate dose of optimism.

in front of those waiting to emigrate legally. The 11 million includes the children of illegals who have been brought into the United States through no fault of their own. Obama, impatient with Congress' inaction and with an eye on re-election, last June moved on his own to allow some of them to avoid deportation for two years and obtain work permits. For Republicans, stronger enforcement measures are necessary to keep more illegals from entering the United States through states bordering Mexico, especially if an improving U.S. economy begins creating more jobs. Democrats argue that tough controls already are in place.

Both sides want to more efficiently verify legal workers in the United States, while the business community wants better access to low-paid farm workers and well-paid high-tech workers on a temporary basis, which troubles some union leaders.

Supporters of reform hope to see progress soon. At a minimum, they'll want to have a bill (introduced) by early spring, around April, said Andrea Zuniga DiBitetto, who follows Congress for the AFL-CIO, the confederation of US labor unions.

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