All NEW Investors: Your gift matched $ for $ this week! GIVE NOW

Guest workers remain sticking point in immigration debate

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Apr 8, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Guest workers remain sticking point in immigration debate

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Apr 8, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Immigration is expected to be front and center when Congress returns from its spring break this week. A bill could be introduced in the Senate any day now. One of the hallmarks of the plan is a deal to bring in more low-skilled guest workers, but thre are sticking points.

The biggest one centers around how many visas we need for low-skilled guest workers — immigrants who work in restaurants or construction. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor leaders hammered out an agreement on that question, capping visas for construction workers at 15,000.

Jeff Shoaf of the Associated General Contractors of America says that’s not nearly enough.

“15,000 equates to about 0.25 percent of total construction employment today,” he explains. “That seems like an extremely small number to be your cap.”

Shoaf wants more construction worker visas, a higher cap. He’s going to lobby hard for it.

Tom Snyder will be on the other side of the debate. Synder, the point person for the AFL-CIO on immigration, wants to limit construction worker visas to be sure Americans get the first crack at new jobs that open up.

“We want to be sure there’s true labor market shortages before you admit new workers in,” he says.

Especially, Snyder says, when the unemployment rate for construction workers right now is double the national average. 

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.