Immigration Bill Provokes Flurry of Amendments
The Senate last week debated a flurry of amendments to an immigration bill that NAHB believes is deeply flawed and in need of major changes.
Of note to home builders were two amendments dealing with the number of eligible workers allowed under the future immigration program proposed by the bill and the length of time they would be allowed to remain in the country.
NAHB opposed an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) that would slash the number of workers eligible to participate in the program from 400,000 to 200,000 annually. The proposal passed by a vote of 74-24.
Because of its importance to the housing community, NAHB designated a second amendment by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) as a “key vote.”
The Dorgan amendment would eliminate the future flow immigrant program in its entirety at the end of five years, leaving no legal program in place for needed workers to the enter the United States. In response, NAHB said that “a workable future flow immigrant program is essential to comprehensive immigration reform because without it, it is likely to lead to a situation that will encourage more illegal immigration in the future.”
The Dorgan amendment was narrowly defeated by a 48 to 49 vote.
While NAHB supports legislation that would achieve comprehensive immigration reform, the association remains opposed to the Senate bill in its current form because it would hurt America’s small businesses.
The housing community’s objections to the legislation were laid out in a letter to the editor sent by Jerry Howard, NAHB executive vice president and CEO, to the Wall Street Journal.
“Specifically, the nation’s home builders view the bill as counterproductive because it contains onerous provisions regarding employer liability and responsibility for subcontractors; the law could be used to unfairly prosecute an employer who unknowingly hires an illegal alien; general contractors could be held responsible for the legal status of employees hired by subcontractors; the program to provide a future flow of immigrant workers for the construction industry is unworkable; the new, mandated electronic verification system is untested; and the new record-keeping requirements are unduly burdensome, especially for small businesses,” Howard’s letter said.
“These are just a few of the reasons why we believe this bill can’t be fixed without making major revisions,” he said.
The Senate is in recess this week for the Memorial Day holiday and is scheduled to continue debate on the legislation during the week of June 4, when lawmakers are expected to focus on areas of key concern to NAHB, including issues dealing with employment verification provisions, whether contractors will be responsible for the legal status of their subcontractors’ employees and inadequate safe harbor protections.
To read the legislation, click here and enter S. 1348 in the box at the center of the page.
For more information, e-mail Jenna Hamilton at NAHB or call her at 800-368-5242 x8470.
BuilderLink Connects Builders With Members of Congress
BuilderLink, an updated national grassroots program that will provide opportunities for NAHB members to connect more frequently with their members of Congress, is set to be launched on Wednesday, June 6 at the 2007 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
By developing local grassroots activities that bring NAHB members and their members of Congress together throughout the year, BuilderLink will build on the momentum generated by the annual NAHB conference, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 builders to Capitol Hill to share their concerns on housing-related issues with their representatives and senators.
BuilderLink will pinpoint members of Congress who have the most influence over priority housing issues and link them to the NAHB members living in the areas they represent. As constituents, NAHB members are in a unique position to directly communicate with their federal lawmakers on the impact of their decisions on housing.
Whether conducting a local visit, writing a letter or making a phone call to a member of Congress, BuilderLink will provide the resources NAHB members need to advocate a pro-housing message.
For more information on BuilderLink, click here, or e-mail Molly Murray at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8470.