Commercial Roofing Contractors Must Rally Around Immigration Reform
There are many industries in the U.S. that, truth be told, are completely reliant on an immigrant workforce. Commercial roofing is just one of those, along all other types of construction, much of the hospitality industry, and a big chunk of domestic services. Not to mention the large number of immigrants who are here working in the technology and engineering sectors. Yet many Americans seem to be convinced that immigration is a dirty word.
“The truth is that most Americans are misinformed about the benefits of a foreign labor pool. There is some misnomer that these people take jobs away. They do not,” said Jayne Williams, KPOST Company CFO and Safety Officer. “The immigrant labor pool is enthusiastic about the jobs provided and performs a great service to many industries, commercial roofing included.”
Commercial roofing and construction industries are facing a labor shortage looming on the horizon. Economists are predicting a 20% decrease in the labor pool for the construction industry, an industry that is showing continued growth with no visible signs of slowing down.
“Even though our labor pool is dwindling, our legislators don’t want to take a holistic approach to immigration reform. They prefer to ‘piece meal’ the process with small tokens like amnesty rather than devise a holistic approach,” said Steve Little, KPOST Company president.
Amnesty Won’t Get It Done
There is a lot of talk about providing amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants without also providing a pathway to citizenship. This approach is tantamount to a Band-Aid on a large wound. Without making significant changes to improve the citizenship process, people have very little hope of achieving one of the founding principles of this country – the American dream.
“A total overhaul of the immigration and citizenship process are needed so we can attract workers and provide those folks who want to be here that opportunity,” said Williams. “Today’s policies simply do not support foreign labor.”
The idea that preventing laborers from entering the country will provide Americans with more jobs and better opportunities is not true.
“Commercial roofing and construction industries hire a large immigrant workforce. They want the work and are proud to do an excellent job,” said Little. “Most Americans are simply not interested in this work, so without an immigrant workforce, the work does not get done. Bottom line – this slows down our economy and negatively impacts our future.”
Pathway to the Dream
With the White House trying a kinder, gentler approach to achieving immigration reform, it is unclear if anything will actually be accomplished. Perhaps this new style will help Congress move forward, but will there be a good decision made for the long-term?
Many come here seeking opportunities to live their own American dream. Unfortunately they find the gates are not open as they once were. Immigration reform continually turns toward illegal immigrants, but there are a large number of immigrants who are anxiously waiting to become citizens. Their challenge? The process is long, daunting and almost impossible to achieve.
“We are a nation of immigrants. It’s one of the things that makes this country strong. Historically we have welcomed people who wanted to be here to contribute to a better way of life. Frankly, we don’t lose those ideals,” said Williams. “It’s time to return to the ideal that everyone is welcome. It’s time for holistic immigration reform.”