OVERVIEW

As Congress continues to pursue reforms to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, ABC is committed to advocating for legal immigration policies that address the workforce needs of the construction industry and allow for much-needed access to legal and qualified temporary foreign workers.

Despite ABC’s promotion of construction as a viable career choice for hardworking Americans through the expansion of apprenticeship programs and career and technical education as well as the investment of $1.5 billion annually in education and upskilling initiatives, ABC members continue to face systemic labor shortages of qualified, craft professionals.

Any successful immigration reform measures must work to ensure the enforcement of U.S. laws, support border security and promote economic prosperity. Modernizing the U.S. immigration system must also allow for an adequate amount of legal immigration and access to foreign-born workers to effectively address the workforce demands of the construction industry, which needs to hire an additional 430,000 craft professions in 2021.  

ABC supports:

  • Securing our borders and the effective enforcement of immigration laws.
  • 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.
  • Continued protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status recipients in the workforce.
  • Common-sense measures to deal with the approximately 11 million current undocumented immigrants in the United States.
  • Safe harbor provisions against prosecuting and penalizing employers that act in good faith while using E-Verify to confirm employees’ ability to work in the United States. As of Sept. 8, 2009, the federal government requires use of E-Verify for federal solicitations and contract awards; however, Congress has not mandated the use of E-Verify for all employers.
  • Federal preemption of state and local E-Verify laws.
  • A more streamlined and efficient pathway to legal status.

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

President Biden’s recent proposal on immigration reform seeks to create a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, including those currently authorized to legally live and work in the country through the DACA program and TPS designation. ABC has advocated for permanent protections of DACA and TPS recipients that contribute to the U.S. workforce and economy, including the more than 100,000 in the construction industry.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to enact the president’s plan, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 (H.R. 1177/S. 348).

Any proposal that is to pass Congress must implement bipartisan solutions to fix our nation’s failing immigration system.

ABC is concerned that the Biden administration’s proposal largely ignores the drivers of illegal immigration and the enforcement needed to prevent the circumvention of our nation’s borders and immigration laws over the coming years.

In addition, it is critical that any comprehensive immigration reform includes necessary improvement to our country’s visa system that anticipates the future flow of immigrants to the United States and eliminates incentives for individuals to illegally enter the country in search of work opportunities. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on the construction industry, construction continues to face worker shortages that have numbered in the hundreds of thousands each year. Providing employers with a flexible visa system that allows sufficient access to permanent and temporary foreign workers must be included in any final proposal to fix our immigration system.

Further, the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws will be critical in preventing future illegal immigration into the United States and holding those who violate our immigration policies accountable.

ABC will continue to work with Congress and the administration to stabilize and improve our nation’s immigration system and support well-paying jobs for American workers.