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Flake: Guest worker program in immigration bill will go beyond agriculture

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., left, listen as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks prior to a news conference after their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Tuesday that a comprehensive immigration reform bill he is working on with a bipartisan group of senators will include a temporary worker program covering more than agriculture.

“In particular, we feel here in Arizona that in construction, not just agriculture, we have a need for foreign workers,” Flake told an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon.

Flake said the so-called Gang of Eight hasn’t signed off on any deal yet but is working to balance job opportunities for Americans with the need for foreign workers who can fill low-wage, low-skill jobs.

“What we’ve tried to do is have a system that meets the needs of employers and the labor community,” he said.

Flake said the immigration bill would provide an expedited path toward citizenship for those in the agriculture industry.

“If people stay in the agriculture sector, there would be a slightly different process for them,” he said. “As far as details, that’s as far as I’ll go.”

Flake said the bill will be written in the next week and introduced in the coming weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also part of the Gang of Eight, are members.

He said he expects disagreements on the temporary worker plan.

“There are going to be a lot of people who are going to be unhappy about the guest worker element, but that may just mean we have a bill that can actually pass,” he said. “We’ll hopefully be able to move it through the process.”

Flake said passing an immigration reform bill in both the House and Senate could create other opportunities for bipartisan legislation.

“I hope that if we can get agreement on immigration that that will show to the country that Washington can agree on a few things,” he said. “If we can tackle an issue as thorny and as tough as this issue then maybe we can get together on a long-term budget deal.”

3 comments

  1. Senator Flake,
    With all due respect I think you should rethink your idea that those in the building trades are low skilled workers. When you hire people with low skill to build our houses you get people who do not know the proper way of building homes and end up with inferior homes. I have seen much of this in Arizona and I think we deserve to have high quality homes. I have watched as spanish speaking people were on building jobs and cutting corners where ever possible. I own one of those houses and during a small wind I lost a whole section of my roofing and discovered they didn’t bother to nail the roofing down in several places. I have another home that was built in a newer neighborhood where many of the builders did not speak english. Those homes have tile roofs and are having problems with the roof tiles coming off. Just placing the tiles and putting nails where they want instead of what is needed? We have many unemployed Americans who are craftsmen in the building trades. We need to give them the jobs they have been trained for. If we are short of these craftsmen we need to train more. We need jobs for our citizens. If people come here legally then they belong here. If they break our laws to come here they need to go back and try to do it legally. That is not to much to ask. We have laws in place to protect our borders that need to be used and forget making new ones.
    Thank you

  2. This is the same argument they used in 1986. What is really about is the Northe American Free Trade Association with Mexico.
    Wake up America

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