To relieve the shortage of semiskilled labor ("essential workers") in the U.S.,
NRCA urges Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would
establish adequate legal avenues for foreign workers to fill current and future
NRCA's member companies face an enduring shortage of workers as there are not enough
domestic workers to meet the growing labor demand facing the roofing industry. The
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the roofing industry alone will need
70,000 new workers during the next decade to keep pace with the demand for professional
roofing services. But demographic trends are working against the U.S. economy. BLS
expects employment in all occupations to rise by 21 million jobs between 2002 and
2012 from 144 million to 165 million an increase of 16 percent. However,
because of a decline in the native-born U.S. citizens growth rate alongside a spike
in retirements, BLS projects 56 million job openings during the decade.
Foreign workers are necessary to help fill the jobs for services and products that
U.S. citizens demand, yet these laborers confront extraordinary difficulties obtaining
the required documentation to work in the U.S. Today, there are approximately 11
million undocumented workers in the U.S. filling the high demand in the U.S. labor
market for low-skilled workers that cannot be met domestically.
Current law provides construction companies the ability to hire foreign workers
through a temporary visa program (H-2B), which is capped at 66,000 workers per year.
The program is highly complex, and all nonagricultural industries compete for these
scarce visas. Furthermore, "green cards" are limited to 5,000 per year for essential
workers currently, there is a five- to 10-year waiting list. These limited
programs and the complexity of immigration law make it difficult for roofing contractors
nationwide to access a sustainable supply of essential workers.
Recognizing that the U.S. immigration system is broken, Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.)
and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), recently introduced
the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (HR 2330 and S 1033) to address the
problem by establishing new visa categories that would permit more foreign workers
to work legally in the U.S. NRCA commends these legislators for addressing the issue
and looks forward to working with them and others to improve the bill and enact
comprehensive immigration reform.
Principles for reform
Reform should be comprehensive, addressing future economic needs and existing undocumented
work force already in the U.S.
Reform should strengthen national security by screening foreign workers and creating
a disincentive for illegal immigration.
Reform should strengthen the rule of law by establishing clear, sensible immigration
laws that are efficiently and vigorously enforced.
Reform should create an immigration system that functions efficiently for employers,
workers and government agencies.
Reform should create a program that allows hard-working, tax-paying undocumented
workers to earn legal status.
Reform should ensure U.S. workers are not displaced by foreign workers.
Reform should ensure all workers enjoy the same labor law protections.
Reform must be comprehensive. Enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Reform
must do more than crack down on illegal immigration. That approach has failed every
NRCA serves on the steering committee of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
(EWIC) a coalition of businesses, trade associations and other organizations
concerned about the shortage of semiskilled labor. NRCA and EWIC believe if Congress
addresses the difficult challenge of reforming the nation's dysfunctional immigration
system, important public policy goals will be advanced. First, by passing legislation
that would allow essential workers to enter the U.S. legally using simplified, realistic
documentation procedures, Congress would send a powerful message that it recognizes
the critical role foreign workers play in the economy and society, as well as provide
concrete action toward the goal of safeguarding the U.S.'s economic future. Second,
such reform will strengthen the nation's security.
Once there are more realistic laws, they can be enforced more effectively with added
resources on the border and a new commitment to legality in the interior. Unless
the U.S. tackles the problem of illegal immigration in comprehensive fashion, it
will continue to be vulnerable to those who would do it harm. NRCA urges Congress
to fix an immigration system that serves neither the U.S.'s economic security nor
national security needs.
Click here to read a letter
from NRCA and other industry organizations to each member of the U.S. House of Representatives
urging them to address immigration reform in a comprehensive fashion.