Bush's Immigration Plan Draws Mixed Reaction

By John S. McClenahen Although neither the National Association of Manufacturers nor the Business Roundtable, two powerful Washington, D.C., business lobbying groups, reacted immediately to U.S. President George W. Bush plans to alter immigration policy for guest workers, two other groups had predictably mixed responses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly welcomed the proposal, with Randel Johnson, its vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, saying, "Our immigration and visa policy must ensure employers are able to fill jobs critical to our economy when American workers are not available." The AFL-CIO had a decidedly different take on the proposal. The proposed changes are "a hollow promise for hardworking, undocumented workers, people seeking to immigrate to the U.S. and U.S. workers alike," said John Sweeney, the labor federation's president. As outlined by the White House, the administration's plan would allow foreign workers, included undocumented workers currently employed in the U.S., to take jobs when no American workers were available and willing to take the jobs. It would require that workers under temporary status pay a one-time program registration fee and return to their home countries after their work periods expire. Legal status under the program would last for three years and be renewable for an additional limited period. The Bush proposal is subject to Congressional approval.

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