The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

March 23, 2013

Senators close in on immigration deal

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

"It's shocking to us that the Republicans are willing to hold up the bill and they're saying that this bill is not moving forward without poverty level wages," Avendano said. "So we're hopeful that they will see the light and recognize how important this issue is and agree to move forward."

Randy Johnson, the chamber's senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said the chamber simply wanted to stick with current law requiring that temporary workers be paid whichever is greater: what comparable American workers make or the prevailing wage as determined by the Labor Department.

"The unions have jeopardized the entire immigration reform effort, which would provide a pathway to legalization and citizenship for the 10-11 million undocumented workers, because of their refusal to take a responsible stance on a small temporary worker program," Johnson said in a statement.

McCain said the last-minute scuffle was understandable.

"People have a lot at stake here, this is a huge deal. We're talking about the lives of 11 million people just to start with, so I understand why passions are high and sentiments are high," McCain told reporters Friday.

"We just make steady progress," he said. "We take two steps forward, and then we take a step back."

A separate visa program for agricultural workers also remained unsettled but was not exciting as much concern.

McCain and Flake plan to visit the Arizona border next Wednesday with Schumer and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., another Gang of Eight member, to inspect conditions there as they finalize their bill. The legislation would impose new border security requirements before any path to citizenship could begin, which is critical to Republicans in the group.

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