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NRCA issues statement on Senate approval of immigration reform legislation

June 27, 2013

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) commends the Senate for approving bipartisan legislation to fix our broken immigration system and is pleased that Congress is moving forward on this critical issue. NRCA has long supported reform legislation that increases border security; improves enforcement without burdening employers; provides an avenue for workers to enter the U.S. legally when our economy needs them; and addresses the existing illegal work force in a balanced manner.

NRCA believes the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) gets the big picture correct on immigration reform. Most importantly, our members are pleased to see bipartisan consensus on the need for a lesser-skilled temporary worker program (W-Visa program) that provides a legal avenue for businesses to obtain workers from abroad when domestic workers cannot fill job openings. Our members prefer to hire U.S. workers, but experience demonstrates this is not always possible within the roofing industry. As the economy improves, NRCA expects labor shortages in our industry to become acute and sustained without a viable mechanism to allow workers from abroad to take job openings that otherwise will go unfilled.

NRCA supports a temporary worker program that is governed by market forces, protects U.S. workers and enables employers to obtain the workers needed to grow their businesses. NRCA believes the basic construct of the new W-Visa program is sound and generally meets the needs of U.S. employers and workers.

However, as noted in numerous communications to Congress during recent months, NRCA has serious concerns that S. 744 in its current form will not fully resolve key problems that currently plague our immigration system. Most prominently, we are concerned that arbitrary limitations placed on the number of visas allotted to the construction industry will serve as a virtual exclusion from the program for our members. Our dysfunctional immigration system will not be fixed if it fails to address the needs of the construction industry, which is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and job growth.

NRCA also is concerned with other components of the W-visa program in S. 744. The inclusion of an 8.5 percent unemployment trigger in a given Metropolitan Statistical Area to allow for participation by employers in the program is problematic for the construction industry. In addition, NRCA is concerned with the overall level of complexity of the W-visa program. Any visa program must be streamlined and relatively easy to use for employers, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses.

Additionally, NRCA has concerns with the employment eligibility verification requirements in S. 744 and is disappointed these issues were not addressed by the Senate. NRCA supports implementation of an efficient, practical and accurate employment verification system that provides ample protection from liability for employers who strive to comply with the system in good faith. NRCA is pleased S. 744 contains key protections for employers with respect to employment verification. However, NRCA is concerned there is ambiguity in the employer protections language of S. 744. The employer protections should be strengthened to ensure the system is effective and employers are not overly burdened administratively or financially.

As the focus turns to the House, NRCA looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to approve immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of the roofing industry. NRCA remains committed to enactment of bipartisan immigration reform legislation in 2013.

For more information, please contact Duane Musser, NRCA's vice president of government relations, at (202) 546-7584 or dmusser@nrca.net.

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