Jan. 9, 2019
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Leader McConnell,
As the 116th Congress begins, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) urges lawmakers to work on a bipartisan basis to craft immigration reform that addresses our nation's border security and economic needs. Most urgently, NRCA urges Congress to act immediately to provide a permanent solution for employees now working legally in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), including many in the roofing industry.
Established in 1886, NRCA is one of the nation's oldest trade associations and the voice of professional roofing industry employers worldwide. NRCA's 3,600 member companies represent all segments of the industry, including contractors, manufacturers, distributors, consultants and other employers who employ over 250,000 workers in all 50 states. NRCA members typically are small, privately held companies with the average member employing 45 people and attaining sales of about $4.5 million per year.
A chronic shortage of qualified workers is the most significant limitation on the ability of roofing industry employers to grow their businesses in today's economy. Most contractors indicate they could be doing 10 to 20 percent or more work if they could only fill vacant positions, which translates to an estimated $3.6 billion to $7.2 billion in lost economic activity annually. Workforce shortages will become even more acute due to an aging workforce and other demographic trends, as well as ongoing rebuilding efforts resulting from recent hurricanes and other disasters across the nation. This situation persists despite the well-paying, family-sustaining jobs offered in our industry (the 2017 mean hourly wage for roofing workers was $20.57 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Given the chronic workforce shortage already confronting the roofing industry, as well as the failure of previous Congresses to enact legislation to reform and update our immigration system, it is highly counterproductive to end TPS designations for the estimated 325,000 employees working legally in the U.S., especially with unemployment at only 3.9 percent. The Trump administration's decision to rescind TPS will exacerbate workforce shortages now facing employers, making it even more difficult for our members to grow their businesses and contribute to increased economic growth. This is especially true in the construction industry, in which approximately 51,700 TPS individuals are now legally employed, the most of any U.S. industry. This will also cause severe disruption for many hardworking individuals and families who have been contributing to their community for many years.
Given the rapidly approaching deadlines specified in the Trump administration's decision to rescind TPS for individuals from various countries, Congress should act expeditiously to provide a permanent solution for TPS recipients (we understand the TPS decisions on El Salvador, Haiti and several other countries are now under injunction due to pending legal challenges, but the Jan. 5, 2020, deadline for Hondurans with TPS status is still in effect). During the 115th Congress, NRCA supported bipartisan legislation to allow certain TPS individuals who have been working legally in the U.S. for many years to adjust to permanent legal resident status so they may continue contributing to their communities and our economy.
NRCA urges Congress to address this urgent issue by approving legislation that allows TPS workers who have a demonstrated track record of working legally in the U.S. and meet other criteria to adjust to permanent legal resident status. This could be done as standalone legislation or as a component of any budget deal between Congress and the administration that provides for expanded border security and reforms to our immigration system.
Given the urgency of the situation faced by TPS individuals and their employers, NRCA looks forward to working with lawmakers and the administration to bring about a bipartisan legislative solution to this vital issue in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working individuals are at stake. Tackling this most urgent issue now in a balanced manner will provide a template for bipartisan cooperation on efforts to address other components of our broken immigration system, including legislation to expand E-Verify to reduce illegal immigration as well as visa reforms designed to strengthen economic growth by meeting the long-term workforce needs of the roofing industry.
Thank you for your consideration of NRCA's views on this important issue. For more information, please contact Duane Musser in NRCA's Washington, D.C., office at (202) 546-7584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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