Interestingly, the general concept of a commission to propose changes to visa numbers is one whose intellectual foundation lies within the labor movement. It is the brainchild of Ray Marshall, a secretary of Labor under President Carter and a co-founder of the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
But Chamber and AFL-CIO leaders, who attested to a productive working relationship during frequent meetings during the last several months, both broadly endorsed the concept Thursday.
“We recognize that there is no simple solution to this issue,” the statement says. “We agree that a professional bureau in a federal executive agency, with political independence analogous to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, should be established to inform Congress and the public about these issues.”
In 2011, the US admitted more than 2 million temporary workers, a figure that swells to more than 3 million when the workers’ families are included, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Roughly half of those, ranging from seasonal agricultural workers to nurses to electrical engineers, could be governed by a new flexible-visa regime.
But deciding which low skilled workers would have an opportunity to obtain permanent residency or, eventually, citizenship, will be a key debate. The groups also have not come to an accord on high-skilled workers.
Liberal groups were supportive of the agreement.