Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dorgan: Scrap Temporary Worker Program

WASHINGTON - An effort to scrap a temporary worker program that has drawn criticism from both parties will provide the first test of a broad immigration bill, as the Senate on Tuesday began tackling a long list of proposed changes to the measure.

A proposal by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., would strike the program, which would bring in at least 400,000 foreign workers each year.

Under a bill drafted by a bipartisan group and backed by the White House, most of the workers could stay for as many as three two-year stints, provided they leave the United States for a year between each stay. Many of the visa holders would be unskilled, nonagricultural workers in areas such as construction, landscaping and meatpacking.

The temporary worker plan has come under attack from several fronts. Many labor unions say it would depress wages and create a class of workers with no job rights. Some business groups call the leave-and-return element unworkable.

"It is just a fiction that these are jobs Americans aren't willing to do," Dorgan said. "The main reason that big corporations want a guest worker program is that it will drive down U.S. wages."........

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