Guest Worker Cap in Senate Immigration Plan Fails to Meet Construction Industry Needs

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The U.S. Senate “Gang of Eight” unveiled a plan for comprehensive immigration reform that fails to include a guest worker program that would meet the needs of the construction industry, reports the Associated Builders & Contractors.  The association congratulated the senators on taking the first step toward fixing the country’s broken immigration system, but said the guest worker program in the plan fails to provide a sufficient number of visas to meet market demand.

“A guest worker program is essential to the success of any viable reform to our immigration system; however, the current plan for construction is simply too small to address the workforce needs of our industry in times of both high and low unemployment,” said Geoff Burr, ABC vice president of federal affairs.

Burr went on to point out that, as construction continues its recovery, it will become more difficult to fill critical labor opening and make it impossible to secure the border. “For these reforms to be successful, we believe the cap on visas should be determined by labor market demand – the only measure that truly reflects the needs of the economy and our industry,” Burr said.

ABC continues to advocate 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.

ABC, in conjunction with four other construction groups, advocated for a reasonable and balanced approach to comprehensive immigration reform in a Feb. 22 letter sent to the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of Senators working on the same issue. The letter was signed by ABC, Associated General Contractors, Leading Builders of America, National Association of Home Builders and National Roofing Contractors Association.

“We have a unique opportunity before us to reform our immigration policies to enhance our security, protect our economy, and continue our heritage as a welcoming country of immigrants,” the groups wrote. “We urge you to continue working together to craft a reasonable and balanced approach to addressing America’s immigration problems in a way that resolves the issue for the long-term.”  Read More.