OVERVIEW

As the economy continues to recover, construction firms will face a shortage of qualified workers and craft professionals. Unfortunately, current immigration laws do not provide an adequate amount of legal immigration to respond to the future economic demands of the construction industry.

Any successful reform measure must work to ensure the enforcement of our laws, security of our borders and prosperity of our economy. Immigration reform will fail without a channel allowing willing and essential foreign workers the opportunity to work legally in this country.

ABC SUPPORTS

• Establishing a temporary guest worker program that would allow non-U.S. citizens to apply for the right to work legally in this country for multi-year renewable terms when an appropriately skilled and willing American worker is not available.
• Safe harbor provisions against prosecuting and penalizing employers that act in good faith while using employment verification (E-Verify) to verify employees.
• Federal preemption of state and local E-Verify laws.
• A more streamlined and efficient pathway to legal status.
• Improvements to border security and the stricter enforcement of immigration laws.


ABC OPPOSES

• Including “prevailing wage” requirements under the Davis-Bacon Act in any temporary guest worker program.
• Any temporary guest worker program that has an additional set of rules, restrictions or limitations for the construction industry.
• “Cross-liability” provisions that force employers to be accountable for the workers of other employers with which they have contracts, subcontracts or other forms of exchange.

BACKGROUND

The key fatal flaw of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was its failure to provide a legal immigration program that could respond to labor market demand in times of both high and low unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry is expected to need about 1.6 million new workers by 2022. In order to meet U.S. construction demand, there must be a way for the industry to legally supplement its workforce when there are not a sufficient number of willing or able American workers.

An effective guest worker program is not only an economic issue, but also plays an important role in securing our border. When legal immigration vehicles are able to meet labor force demands, a truly secure border becomes a more realistic and achievable goal.

In addition, employers need an efficient, practical and accurate E-Verify system that provides liability protection for compliant businesses. Currently, E-Verify is limited to the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. As of Sept. 8, 2009, the federal government requires use for federal solicitations and contract awards; however, Congress has not mandated the use of E-Verify for all employers.