Schumer: Senate group 'very close to an agreement' on immigration reform

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a leading negotiator in talks on immigration reform, says the Senate Gang of Eight is on track for a deal by the end of March.

Schumer and other members of the gang have packed their schedules with meetings to hammer out the biggest policy disagreements before Congress leaves for a two-week recess.

“We’re very close to an agreement,” said Schumer. “We met this morning for two hours. We’re meeting again this afternoon. We expect to meet our goal of having comprehensive immigration reform supported by all eight of us by the end of March. We’re on track.”

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The other members of the group are Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

The group still has to resolve the question of how many H-1B visas should be allocated for high-skilled workers in technical fields such in engineering, science and medicine.

Schumer said there are concerns that foreign workers could receive training in the United States and then return to their home countries, undermining the technical advantage of U.S. industries.

“There’s broad consensus on letting more high-tech people into the country, but what we want to do is make sure that those kinds of mills that don’t really end up helping America, but rather might be mills where you get training here and go back home, can’t be allowed to continue the way they do,” he said.