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Immigration Bill Sprinkled with Pet Projects
Buried within the 844 pages of the bipartisan immigration bill -- amid historic shifts in policies such as a path to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants -- are pet provisions of the senators who crafted it.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants more visas for the meat industry, a major employer in his state. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., pushed for special treatment for Irish workers; his state is home to a large population with Irish ancestry.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio sought help for the cruise-ship industry, a big business in his home state of Florida. And Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado wove in a boost for ski areas.
After months of difficult negotiations -- which nearly derailed an immigration deal -- the business community and labor unions hashed out a new work-visa program to allow up to 200,000 low-skill workers to come to the U.S.
Adding extra visas for meat, poultry and fish cutters wasn't part of that deal. Including it was the work of Mr. Graham, said people familiar with the negotiations.
The final bill sets aside up to 20,000 additional visas for meat cutters and trimmers. The industry employed 158,480 Americans nationwide in May 2012, according to the Labor Department.
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