Progress on legislation from Congress on immigration changes

WASHINGTON (AP) - Momentum seems to be building for action by Congress this year on the long-stalled issue of overhauling the U.S. immigration system.

Another sign of progress came Thursday when business and labor groups announced agreement on the principles of a new system to bring lower-skilled workers to the U.S. That's a top priority for a comprehensive immigration bill.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached consensus after weeks of closed-doors negotiations they were conducting at the request of two senators involved in crafting an immigration deal on Capitol Hill. Ensuring that future workers can come to the U.S. legally is expected to be a central element of the deal, which will also address border security, employer verification and a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

The principles announced Thursday include agreement on the need for a way to let businesses more easily hire foreign workers when Americans aren't available to fill jobs.

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