Labor Group, Hispanics Hit Senate Bill

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, June 21, 2007

Labor and Hispanic groups yesterday told senators to scrap their immigration bill and go back to the drawing board, saying that the proposal now before the Senate has become too harsh on illegal aliens and a poor deal for U.S. workers.

In separate press conferences, the Hispanic rights groups and labor leaders, including the AFL-CIO, joined a growing group of critics from both the left and the right who say current law is better than the immigration bill that President Bush and a small bipartisan group of senators are pushing.

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Meanwhile from the immigrant-advocacy side, a handful of Hispanic groups yesterday said the Senate bill started off poorly, became worse after the first two weeks of amendments and is now unfixable.

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The bill would combine legalization and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens with a guest-worker program for future foreign workers and a point system for future immigration that gives greater weight to people with needed skills or education.

But opposition appears to have grown among voters, and a poll released earlier this week by Democratic strategists warned that Republicans can have success attacking Democrats on some parts of the immigration bill.

Also, a new evaluation released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) yesterday found that the Senate bill would reduce family-based immigration from about two-thirds of current permanent visas to less than half. Employment-based visas would go from less than one-fifth to about two-fifths.

The MPI evaluation said the new point system called for in the bill would also shift the profile of new legal immigrants away from Latin American and Caribbean countries and toward Asian countries, particularly India, China and the Philippines, where recent immigrants have had better English skills and higher educational attainment.

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The Hispanic groups fired off a letter to Mr. Reid telling him to scrap the current bill and instead pass a series of smaller bills.

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