WASHINGTON, May 16—Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO Michael Bellaman commented today on President Trump’s new immigration proposal, which would create a “merit-based” visa system to address the workforce needs of U.S. industries like construction. Bellaman said:

“With a systemic labor shortage impacting ABC member companies of all sizes and an estimated 440,000 construction jobs that need to be filled in 2019, ABC appreciates the efforts of the Trump administration to bring immigration to the forefront and address our country’s security and workforce needs. These are important first steps, though moving forward, immigration reform must include protections for DACA and Temporary Protected Status recipients, who have been members of the construction industry workforce for years.

“In addition, the strong U.S. economy has resulted in higher demand for construction services, which has created a nearly nine-month construction backlog, according to ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator. Therefore, we also need to provide employers with greater access to temporary foreign workers to fill critical positions and meet current construction demands.”