Senators add pet provisions into immigration bill

April 22, 2013 at 3:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- During negotiations on a sweeping immigration bill, U.S. senators added a number of pet provisions for work visas being reserved for specific industries.

The bill -- a bipartisan effort to reform immigration -- includes a new work-visa program to allow as many as 200,000 low-skill workers into the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

During negotiations, some senators slipped in provisions allocating more visas for industries important to their states.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida secured a number of work-visas for foreigners who repair cruise ships made abroad and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado set aside visas for certified ski instructors from other countries.

One provision that has not received much support is 20,000 additional visas for meat cutters and trimmers. The provision, created by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been met with resistance by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which says those allocated visas will bring in more foreign workers where they are not needed.

"The way we view this is it's an earmark for meat and poultry and we strongly, strongly oppose it," said Tim Schlittner, a spokesman for the labor union. "It appears to have been dropped in the bill at the 11th hour. Quite frankly, we're taken back by its inclusion."

"We don't want this provision to poison what is otherwise a giant step forward towards comprehensive reform," Schlittner said.

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