The nation's immigration laws are getting an overhaul. People involved in negotiations said a U.S. Senate bill would provide a new class of worker visas for low-skilled workers, secure the border, crack down on employers, improve legal immigration and create a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants already here.
"Companies that I've spoken with say, right now, rules are so strict they're told you cannot hire this person because they're illegal," explained Michelle Griffin Young, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. "However, they can't find someone to do those jobs."
Business leaders have come out saying migrant employees are filling roles and helping companies remain productive and competitive.
"A lot of businesses say, 'Let's get rid of the stigma. Let's call them undocumented. Let's make it a legal process that they will be able to work,'" shared Griffin Young.
Over the weekend, people close to talks said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the A.F.L-C.I.O reached an agreement on a guest worker program for low skilled foreign workers. It removes the biggest hurdle to completing the sweeping immigration legislation. It's basically a legal way of allowing them to take jobs Americans won't.
"The reality is that there are jobs out there that most Americans, if not all Americans, don't want to do, and in what we've seen, people who are illegal do fill a number of those positions," added Griffin Young.
With the weekend agreement in place, the senators are expected to unveil their legislation sometime next week.