ABC, in conjunction with five other construction groups, April 3 expressed concern that the Senate “Gang of Eight” deal on a temporary guest worker program repeats mistakes of previous, failed attempts at immigration reform. The “Gang of Eight is a bipartisan group of Senators working on comprehensive immigration reform.
“The construction industry is committed to finding U.S. workers to fill open positions in our industry,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For many years, our industry has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of our economy and border security, and does not repeat the mistakes of previous reform efforts.”
Specifically, the groups expressed deep concern with the size and the scope of the temporary guest worker program in the proposal now being drafted, which would cap the amount of visas for the construction industry at only 15,000 in an industry that currently employs nearly 6 million workers. In the statement, the groups called the action “simply unrealistic and destined to fail.”
They noted that a guest worker program that fails to provide a sufficient number of visas to meet market demand as the construction sector recovers will inevitably make it harder to fill critical labor openings and make it impossible to secure the border. Instead, the groups said they believe the cap on visas should be determined by labor market demand, which is the only measure that truly reflects the needs of the economy and our industry.
“Without an effective and workable guest worker program, the construction industry will likely not be able to meet the future demand of both the public and private sectors once economic recovery takes hold,” the groups said.
The statement also was signed by the Associated General Contractors (AGC), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Leading Builders of America (LBA), the National Electrical Contractors Association and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).
In a March 13 letter to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, ABC joined AGC, the LBA, NAHB, NRCA and the Mason Contractors Association of America to outline the features of a successful guest worker program
ABC also has advocated for a viable immigration remedy
that strengthens our national security; creates a role for employers in an employment system that functions in a fair, efficient and workable way; addresses the realities of future workforce needs in the less-skilled sectors; and finds a reasonable, rational way of dealing with the current undocumented population in the United States.