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Senate group close to completing immigration bill, Schumer says

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said yesterday that a bipartisan Senate group is “90 percent” done with its draft of legislation to overhaul U.S. immigration law.

“Bottom line is, we are very close,” Schumer, who is part of an eight-member group working on the proposal, said at a news conference in Arizona following a tour there of the border with Mexico. “I’d say we’re 90 percent there. We have a few little problems to work on.”

Schumer said yesterday’s border tour, which he took with fellow senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Arizona Republicans, and Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, deepened his understanding of the challenges in securing the U.S. border. He said the visit would make it easier for him to explain to his Democratic Senate colleagues why Republicans are insisting on measurable increases in border security as part of a plan.

Republicans say a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. must be contingent on improving border security.

“Whatever your views are on immigration, Arizona is ground zero,” Schumer said, noting that McCain and Flake had been pushing hard in the talks for technological improvements at the border.

Schumer said the trip convinced him that federal agents “have adequate manpower but not adequate technology” at the border. Still, he cautioned that the Senate group must find an “effective but also cost effective” approach that does not add to the budget deficit.

The Senate group is planning to unveil its proposal, which is based on principles it released in late January, the week of April 8.

A remaining issue in the talks is how to resolve a long-simmering dispute between organized labor and business groups over a new program to provide U.S. work visas to low-skilled foreign workers and the wages that businesses should be required to pay those workers.

Labor unions say U.S. businesses are trying to create a program that would let them import workers who could be easily exploited and paid low wages. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he’s trying to secure an exemption in the bill for the construction industry until the nation’s jobless rate stabilizes.

The jobs are there Jim in hotels, hospitals, etc. The grunt work Americans do not want to do. The laws are there also, but not enforced because places like hotels need workers. Those jobs do not go away. Who will take those jobs? Not Americans. I saw quite a bit of this when a relative was in Lahey Clinic. The folks who cleaned were all foreign. I assume Lahey checked their status, but maybe they did not. The jobs are lousy jobs, and many of the folks that do them do not even speak English. This is rampant in places like Florida, AZ, Texas etc. We do not enforce our laws, if we did we would have a better handle on illegals in this country.

“effective but also cost effective” - one question is all that needs to be answered. Why do people come here illegally? Answer – jobs, even lowest paying jobs in the US pay better than in Mexico. Does not make them a bad person, just here illegally. Stop the jobs and you remove the goal. Any legal resident has a Social Security card, make the law to require employers to check SS card numbers before hiring. This is allowed today with an existing operating system (I personally know one company that checks every hire). If the SS card checked says it was issued to a female 35 years ago then a male age 20 using the number has a problem. NO great financial cost or time by anyone to do this. Make the fine for hiring someone without SS verification high enough so they are not willing to just pay the fine as a cost of business. Those people that come into the country legally are issued documentation – the same rule applies with an expiration date. Once the date passes the documentation is no longer valid and the employer is subject to the fine. Those here for illegal purposes will come regardless of how many agents or laws are in place. Eliminate the goal and the problem takes care of itself.

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