The business-friendly proposal is being pushed amid a stalled effort to more broadly overhaul immigration laws.
The White House can’t get its broad immigration proposal moving, so officials are pursuing a narrow deal that would please the business community but might go against the president’s campaign promise to reduce overall immigration.
In recent months, the administration has been in talks with senators about legislation that would create new categories of temporary worker visas or lengthen the allotted stays for those workers, among other possible changes, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
A White House official confirmed the ongoing negotiations on the guest worker proposal and said the effort is an attempt to generate action on a smaller immigration proposal after a larger one stalled and won few adherents.
“We’ve also been listening to stakeholders,” the official said. “We’ve also developed points of view on what the temporary system should look like.”
A broadening of temporary worker visas is a policy change the business community has long sought, arguing companies in industries like construction and agriculture can’t hire enough workers to meet demand. But immigration activists seeking to reduce migration worry such changes would raise the number of foreigners coming to the U.S.