Business, labor close on deal for immigration bill

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A major hurdle to completion of a sweeping immigration bill is being removed as business and labor near agreement over a contentious new low-skilled worker program.

The dispute between the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce is looking all but settled. Last week it threatened to derail talks among a bipartisan group of senators working on comprehensive legislation to secure the border, improve enforcement and provide eventual legal status to some 11 million illegal immigrants.

A last major sticking point between the two parties was wages for the tens of thousands of workers who would be allowed to come in under a new visa program covering hospitality workers, housekeepers, long-term care workers and many others. Now officials say they've essentially reached agreement on a formula to solve the wage issue.

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