Temporary guest worker program trimmed in Senate

[JURIST] The US Senate voted 74-24 [roll call] Wednesday to slash the number of temporary guest workers that could be annually admitted into the United States under the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 [S 1348 summary; JURIST report]. The amendment [S Amdt 1169 materials] proposed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) [official website] would reduce the previous maximum limit of 600,000 guest workers to 200,000. The White House had strongly opposed the amendment and US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Guiterrez had earlier issued a statement [text] on behalf of the Bush administration, urging members of the Senate to reject the amendment because it would "eliminate [the] critical flexibility" that is necessary for maintaining "a legal channel for the workers our economy needs to enter this country in an orderly way." Following the vote, Bingaman characterized the guest worker program as "unproven and untested" [statement text], adding that "we shouldn't be placing American workers in the position of competitions with an unlimited number of guest workers." The guest worker program has received bipartisan criticism for accepting too many workers [JURIST report]. Key senators from both political parties downplayed the impact of the amendment.

The new immigration reform bill has been criticized by lawmakers from both parties, with some Republicans saying it amounts to "amnesty" for up to 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States and some Democrats objecting to restrictions on the right of legal immigrants to bring their families to the US. On Monday, the League of United Latin American Citizens [advocacy website] objected [press release] to the plan, saying that it "would exploit temporary workers, separate families and institute draconian enforcement measures." The Washington Post has more.



 

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