Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The masonry industry has been working to enact comprehensive immigration reform for numerous years, hoping to finally enact laws that would boost the economic vitality throughout our nation by creating a robust workforce, while ensuring that our national security continues to be a top priority. The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is pleased to see that immigration reform appears to be a top priority for Congress in the 113th Congress and wanted to express our viewpoints as legislative packages are being drafted and debated.
The MCAA supports a broad based, comprehensive immigration reform approach that includes provisions to secure our nation’s borders, creates a temporary guest worker program that meets the demand for labor, and creates a process for addressing the undocumented currently employed in the U.S. The Construction Research Service has estimated that the construction industry will require an average of 185,000 new workers per year in the coming years to meet growing workforce demands. As evidenced by the data, the construction industry faces a growing problem of a shortage of skilled labor; some of this insufficiency is being addressed by the immigrant workforce and we would encourage you to include much needed reforms to guest-worker and visa programs as a part of any package that is enacted.
As an integral part of any package, we must separate those who wish to harm our nation from those who wish to help build it. National security, border enforcement, and citizenship verification, must play an integral role in any reform that is passed by Congress and signed into law. Any policy must include efforts to increase border security efforts, enforcement partnerships between federal and state/local law enforcement entities, and a robust program to cut down on identity theft and the use of fraudulent or stolen social security numbers.
While we are encouraged by the efforts to date, the also has many concerns of the potential impacts that any comprehensive package may contain if history is any guide. In the past, legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate that focuses solely on employer sanctions and would mandate that employers use Social Security numbers to verify their entire workforce; both existing and new employees. These pieces of legislation, by and large, did not take into account the unreliability of the current system or the high rate of errors produced by the system. Furthermore, there were no requirements for the system to be properly tested or revamped before implementation. Under past draft legislation, employers would be required to re-verify their entire workforce within four years of enactment. This will be an enormous administrative burden on employers and employees, particularly small business owners who may struggle with the cost, administrative burden, and technological aspect of any verification system.
In particular, The MCAA would oppose the following aspects of any employee verification provisions included in a final package:
- Assigns liability for contractors who unknowingly use subcontractors that employ undocumented workers;
- Would make employers become the de facto "immigration police;"
- Fails to include a reasonable implementation period for electronic employee verification system (EEVS);
- Would include excessive debarment penalties for immigration violations;
- Implements a system that has not been thoroughly tested and revamped;
- Places a considerable financial strain on small business owners, due to the technological infrastructure;
- Does not provide liability protection for employers from discrimination lawsuits for an employer who relies on E-Verify information and subsequently denies employment to or fires a current employee who is later found eligible to work in the United States
The masonry industry supports a comprehensive approach that includes provisions to secure our nation's borders and creates a temporary guest worker program that meets the demand for labor and a process for addressing the undocumented currently employed in the U.S.
Letters to Congress
- H-2B Classification letter to Representative Tim Walberg; Representative Joe Courtney
- E-Verify employment verification system letter to Representative Trey Gowdy
- Immigration Reform; Social Security No-Match Rule letter to Member of Congress
- Immigration Reform letter to Members of Congress