Texas immigration battle has implications for contractors

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Dive Brief: 

  • In a case with ramifications for the construction industry, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction Tuesday halting a controversial Texas immigration law that the Supreme Court had allowed to go into effect.
  • SB 4 would make entering Texas illegally a state crime — in addition to a federal one — and give state officials the power to arrest people suspected of entering the country without authorization. 
  • Construction relies heavily on foreign-born workers. Immigrants make up one in four construction workers, and even more (31%) in the trades, according to a recent analysis by the National Association of Home Builders. In Texas and California, immigrants made up as much as 40% of the construction labor force in 2022, the NAHB said.

Dive Insight:

Increased immigration to the U.S. since 2022 has supported the construction workforce, the NAHB said, easing the demand for tradesworkers on projects. Foreign-born workers make up 64% of plasterers and stucco masons, 52% of drywall installers, 48% of painters, 47% of roofers and 46% of carpet and floor installers, according to the NAHB.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about the case Wednesday.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed that the law would deter illegal immigration, an issue that he feels that President Joe Biden’s administration has failed.

“Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” Abbott said at the time of the signing. 

Biden had called upon Congress to pass the bipartisan immigration bill in early February, which he claimed would make the country fairer and safer. Nonetheless, Senate Republicans blocked the law from advancing.

The White House this week denounced the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the law to go into effect, claiming the law would make communities less safe and burden law enforcement. The statement also pointed to the continued efforts to pass a bipartisan border security agreement.

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