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AGC Official Reacts to Immigration Bill

Thursday, June 6, 2019

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Amidst proposed new tariffs for Mexican imports, a new immigration plan layout from President Donald J. Trump and a new bill passed by the House that protects many undocumented workers, one industry group is speaking out in favor of protecting said workers.

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, released a statement earlier this week in response to the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 in the House, a measure to offer conditional green cards and extend work authorizations to individuals who are in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (“Dreamers”) programs.

Capitol Hill

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 passed the House 237-187, but will almost certainly die in the Republican-controlled Senate. If it does get by, the White House has said that Trump will veto the measure, which falls short of sweeping immigration reform, something officials in both parties agree is needed.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said that the bill was drafted as a “bridge to understanding why we need comprehensive immigration reform for an immigration system that embraces the contributions of our newcomers.”

The bill would allow those who fall into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provided renewable legal status and work permits to about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, as well as about another 1.6 million immigrants to apply for permanent legal status. It would also allow the roughly 300,000 TPS holders the opportunity to earn permanent residency and eventual citizenship.

Those in opposition say that the bill does nothing of substance to actually fix the issue.

“This bill does nothing to address our crisis,” said Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Alabama. “Instead, it tells an entire generation of illegal immigrants that breaking our laws is rewarded.”

The bill is estimated to cover about 2.1 million immigrants in total and comes weeks after Trump’s Rose Garden speech, in which he laid out a “merit-based” legal immigration plan. Under that plan—which so far has not been written into any legislation—Trump said that younger, more educated people would be more likely to have their applications approved. Points would also be awarded for having a valuable skills, an offer for employment, advanced education or a plan to create jobs.

This plan has come under fire, however, by those noting that many of the available jobs in the United States actually fall either into the unskilled category or in the lower levels of trade jobs. Vox cited statistics from March that note that in that month, 2.1 million positions were open for low-skilled workers, while there were only 1.2 million people without college degrees looking for work.

On top of this, the president recently announced that starting June 5, a 5% tariff would be applied to all goods being imported from Mexico. These tariffs are a way of addressing the “emergency at the Southern Border,” according to the statement from the president, in a reference to people crossing the border illegally.

tupungato / Getty Images

Amidst proposed new tariffs for Mexican imports, a new immigration plan layout from President Donald J. Trump and a new bill passed by the House that protects many undocumented workers, one industry group is speaking out in favor of protecting said workers.

If what the administration has dubbed the illegal immigration crisis is lessened via action taken by Mexico, the tariffs will be rolled back. If conditions persist, the tariffs will be raised to 10% July 1, then 15% August 1, 20% Sept. 1 and finally 25% Oct. 1. The 25% tariff will remain at that level permanently if Mexico does not take action.

AGC Reaction

In Sandherr’s statement, he noted that the failure of the Dream and Promise Act would mean that tens of thousands of men and women would be removed from the construction workforce at a time when the majority of contractors report trouble finding workers to hire.

“Members of the House of Representatives have wisely chosen to approve a measure that will protect the legal status of over 100,000 people currently working in the U.S. construction industry, among other individuals,” Sandherr said. “The men and women covered by this measure are making essential contributions to economic development and infrastructure projects across the country.

“Without these workers construction projects in many parts of the country, particularly in regions with a large presence of so-called dreamers and individuals with temporary protected status, are likely to be significantly disrupted.”


Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Government; Hiring; Jobs; Laws and litigation; NA; North America

Comment from Frank Tomasi, (6/6/2019, 12:18 PM)

owners of construction companies want the undocumented workers so that they can make their money and drive wages downward. We are building our 4th high school, and 13 elementary schools to educate the illegals at a cost of 30-60 million dollars just for them. The illegal population is exploding at an alarming rate here. Who wants free food, education, medical attention, etc. Come and get it-----at the expense of the middle class who will be losing their jobs to them.

Comment from Frank Tomasi, (6/6/2019, 12:20 PM)

…..that's 30-60 million dollars each for the schools....

Comment from William Gusnard, (6/10/2019, 8:40 AM)

What about the current Americans in say the Black Belt of the rural south. They are citizens and yet they cannot get clean water, cannot get adequate medical care, and their schools are sorely lacking. However, the illegals are getting all of that for free. Also, my neighbor just had some yardwork done with corner helpers, paid them in cash and filled out no paper work for Social Security. So wrong on so many counts - why not pay kids who live here that same money?

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