Forget Citizenship and the Border -- Future Immigration Is the Hard Part

"We shouldn't have to rely on a government bureaucracy to determine how many guest workers come in," said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst for the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. "The market should determine that. Government commissions can't even figure out how to manage the budget, I don't think they're going to figure out something that's even more complicated like guest workers or immigration."

Of all the points of division in an immigration reform bill, so-called "future flows" could be one of the most difficult to reconcile. As it stands, the senators working on the bill are waiting for business and labor to come to an agreement, according to a legislative aide involved in the drafting of the bill.

Trumka would not comment on whether unions would consider an expansion of guest worker programs as part of an immigration deal. "I'm not going to speculate on where we're going," he said. "I'm trying to get a bill and get this done as quickly as we can."

Legislators have another option: leave that aspect of the immigration system alone, and kick the can down the road for another administration.

But Trumka thinks that would defeat the purpose of a comprehensive solution, and leave the U.S. with a broken immigration system. "If you're going to fix the problem, you have to deal with future flows," he said.

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