This week, the Senate bipartisan “gang of eight” unveiled their long-awaited immigration bill. The 884 page bill covers border security, establishing an opportunity for earned legal status of undocumented workers, visa programs for highly skilled workers and temporary visas for lower skilled workers, and an employment verification system.
One troubling provision is that the construction industry would be the only industry under a separate, smaller annual cap of eligible visas under the proposed temporary worker visas program for lesser-skilled workers. The construction industry could account for no more than one-third of the visas, with a cap of no more than 15,000 visas per year.
If the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent in a metropolitan statistical area, then no construction occupation visas would be issued for that area. This is a significant change from prior discussions when organized labor tried to prohibit any construction occupations from the program. On April 16, AGC issued a statement that the arbitrary cap on the construction industry new temporary visa program would undermine the success of reform.
AGC supports the Senators' work and the opportunity to fix a significantly broken system. AGC will continue to lobby and make recommendations on the bill throughout the legislative process and work with the U.S. House on their bill.