House Bill Takes Hard Line on Immigrant Workers
The House on Dec. 16 passed a strict immigration bill that focuses on border security and punitive enforcement penalties for employers and fails to include a guest worker program that would help meet the workforce needs of employers nationwide.
H.R. 4437, the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act,” would authorize the construction of a fence along a nearly 700 mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border and impose fines of as much as $25,000 per worker for anyone who hires an undocumented worker.
“The penalties for violations of employer verification requirements are overreaching and extreme,” said NAHB President David Wilson. “Most importantly, these overly aggressive mandates would be imposed while making no allowances for temporary guest workers to legally enter the residential construction workforce.”
The bill awaits an uncertain fate in the Senate, which is deeply divided on the issue. The Senate is expected to take up the debate in February — at which time the temporary guest worker provision, which the Bush Administration supports, may yet be added.
In opposing the House bill, NAHB made its concerns clear to members of Congress through direct contacts and two legislative alerts to the association’s grassroots Congressional Contacts. The heavy lobbying by NAHB and its partners in the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition failed to get key amendments added that would have softened the bill before it reached the House floor.
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.
NAHB has voiced grave concerns about the difficulties posed by mandates that would require employers to verify the work eligibility of not just their new employees, but existing ones as well.
NAHB will continue to work with members in the Senate to urge them to oppose mandatory employer verification requirements and to support creating a legal guest worker program.
To read the legislation, click here and enter H.R. 4437 in the box at the center of the page.
For more information, e-mail Michael Strauss at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8252.