One of the pillars of the current immigration proposal is a guest worker program that will provide a legal way for employers to hire the workers they need in the future and not be forced to hire illegal immigrants in order to continue operating. For employers facing worker shortages who do not want to violate the law, the choice may come down to being trounced by foreign competitors, dramatically raise prices to cover the costs needed to entice workers from other employers, or simply closing shop and moving operations to an overseas location where workers are more readily available.

The first amendment to come up for a vote today on the Senate immigration bill would have eliminated the guest worker program from the bill. The Dorgan Amendment went down in defeat, but not without getting the votes of 31 Senators, most of whom were Democrats responding to pressure from labor unions who do not like the fact that guest workers must go home after two years and have no path to citizenship. The fear is that despite strict recruiting and wage requirements and a bar on guest workers in locations with higher than a 7% unemployment rate, these guest workers will drive down wages and steal jobs

But don't expect the same result tomorrow when a vote comes up on the Bingaman Amendment.  That is a more moderate proposal that would cut the size of the guest worker program from 400,000 workers per year to 200,000 and remove the provision that would allow that number to grown. Senator Bingaman (D-NM) and his co-sponsor Diane Feinstein (D-CA) did not vote with Dorgan today on his amendment, but it is likely that all of the 31 Senators who voted yes on today's amendment will support their amendment tomorrow. The question is whether the sponsors can pick up an additional 17 votes.

Here is the text of the amendment - Download bingamanfeinstein_cap_amend_52107.pdf