Bush Immigration Reforms Supported by Builders
President Bush was commended by NAHB last week for his national address promoting comprehensive immigration reform that would secure the nation’s borders while recognizing the labor needs of housing and other industries that contribute to economic growth.
“President Bush outlined several important objectives on immigration policy that we believe the Senate should consider as it debates this important legislation,” said Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of NAHB. “These include protecting and securing our borders, establishing a guest worker program that would meet the needs of our economy, helping employers to verify the legal status of their employees and creating a legal path for foreign workers to apply for citizenship.”
Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to our country’s safety and economic health, Howard added. While the nation’s home builders continue to support strong border security measures, it is also vital that immigration legislation include a system by which immigrants can legally enter the country to work.
It is estimated that the residential construction industry will need to build 18 million new homes during the next decade, generating more than 1 million new jobs.
Recognizing that foreign workers are essential to sustaining the nation’s workforce, President Bush said that a temporary worker program “would ease the financial burden on state and local governments by replacing illegal workers with lawful taxpayers.
In opposing amnesty, the President proposed a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation.
“I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years,” Bush said. “People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship, but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.”
“The President has consistently called for passage of a comprehensive immigration reform policy that addresses the future needs of the U.S. economy, as well as how to handle the millions of undocumented workers currently in the U.S.,” said Howard. “This approach is similar to legislation pending in the Senate authored by Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). We urge the Senate to move quickly on the Hagel-Martinez bill.”
To read that legislation, click here and enter S. 2611 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.