Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, May 21, 2007

Inside Peep At The Immigration Bill

Shhh. You didn't hear this from me.

My clients are developers whose clients are homebuilders, and as you can imagine, builders are not too hot on shipping all their construction laborers back to Mexico. So while you may want to see a bit more English spoken on construction job sites, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is just as intent on having them be Spanish-only zones.

The lobbying war is on. NAHB doesn't like the bill because it's too tough on "immigrant labor." And here you thought it was too easy on them. Today, NAHB's president sent out a blast email asking for lobbying support. Pertinent sections follow:
Dear Advocate:

This week, the Senate is considering comprehensive immigration reform legislation that was crafted during closed-door negotiations between several Republican and Democratic Senators, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce.

Troubling provisions with severe implications regarding employer verification and enforcement requirements and future flow of immigrant labor have been included in the bill. We need your help to make sure these harmful provisions are removed.

The bill is very large, and all things considered, the cons outweigh the pros for the home building industry. Two components of the bill have been identified as hugely problematic.

  1. Use of Labor through Contract. This section of the bill deals with the general contractor/subcontractor contract requirements. General contractors must include contract language that requires subcontractors to follow immigration law. They must also verify the subcontractors (not the subcontractors employees) Employer Verification Number (VIN) through the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) employee verification system. This section of the bill raises two serious concerns for the home building industry.
    1. The Potential for Endless New Requirements for General Contractors. ...
    2. No 'Safe Harbor' for General Contractors. ...
  1. Future Flow of Immigrant Labor. Serious limitations in the bill impede immigrant workers employment eligibility. The Future Flow Program, as laid out in the bill, would make it impractical for our members to devote the time and money to train an employee only to have them leave after two years. To make it even more unworkable, the bill specifically prohibits employers who live in areas with unemployment rates of 7% or higher from hiring temporary workers.

As an advocate for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) we need your immediate help to defeat these harmful provisions.

The NAHB position is not my position, but I understand where they're coming from. The homebuilding industry, for better or worse, has become dependent on "immigrant labor," and the current sales slump is forcing builders to look for ways to reduce costs. They're not going to pick 2007 as the year they'll say goodbye to their buddies from Latin America.

It's a shame it's come to this, but it has, and part of the reason is that it helps the builders avoid unions that have been trying to organize homebuilding for years -- with all the inefficiency, stoppages and over-generous concessions that come with unionizing. Homebuilders would just as soon not be the next Chrysler, thank you.

Still, I want it to be tougher for illegals to stay here illegally, and NAHB wants it to be easier. If some guy can't even bring himself to register under the too-liberal provisions of this near-amnesty, I don't want him working on houses here in America, so the contractors and subs better learn how to verify who's working for them.

Between boxcars carrying the illegals to the border and the NAHB's desired transparent borders, there is the solution to this problem. Lobbying for the extremes won't get us there.