Illegal Worker Crackdown a Threat to Businesses, Report Finds
A crackdown on illegal immigration threatens the competitiveness of businesses across the country, according to a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on “Assessing the Economic Effects of State Laws Addressing Foreign-Born Unauthorized Workers.”
The report focuses on the diverse strategies to regulate the employment of foreign-born unauthorized workers that have been adopted in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
Oklahoma’s law, among other things, makes it a felony to transport or conceal, harbor or shelter from detection persons who have entered the U.S. illegally; prohibits public contracts or subcontracts to employers who do not participate in E-Verify or the equivalent; and makes it a discriminatory practice to continue employing someone who is not authorized while discharging someone in the same job category who is authorized to work.
As a result of the Oklahoma law, anecdotal evidence suggests that “home building contractors, many of whom are very dependent on foreign-born workers, are experiencing significant changes,” the report says.
“Some report a significant rise in sub-contractor charges for certain construction jobs, such as dry walling and roofing, that attracted a high proportion of immigration workers,” the report says. “This appears to be the result of both a decline in the supply of available workers — some contractors said that they have lost as much as 40% of their crews — and an attempt by some sub-contractors to take advantage of the tight labor situation.
“If true, construction costs, which are affected highly by labor costs, will rise and may add to the final cost of a dwelling or office.”
No fewer than 1,562 pieces of legislation related to immigrants and immigration were introduced among the 50 state legislatures last year. Of these bills, 244 became law in 46 states.
State legislators introduced almost three times as many immigration-related bills in 2007 as they did in 2006, when 84 bills were enacted.
"What these state and local laws are requiring our builders to do, small business people, is to comply with the various immigration laws across all these counties," said NAHB Executive Vice President Jerry Howard. "It's very, very difficult. It literally can't be done."
It is estimated that more than 20% of the building industry's entire workforce is foreign-born, making the immigrant population essential to meeting housing demand and sustaining economic growth in this country. Home builders consistently rate labor availability among their most prominent concerns.
For more information, e-mail Carlos Gutierrez at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8279.