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Amid Unyielding Labor Shortage, Construction Leaders Call For Immigration Reform


With billions in federal funding set to flow to infrastructure projects across the country in the coming years, the labor shortage that has long plagued the construction industry could get even direr.

In order to build the projects spurred on by the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act over the last two years, construction leaders are calling on federal lawmakers to act on immigration reform, Construction Dive reports.

With over 400,000 construction roles already unfilled, industry lobbyists said immigration reform is the best way to close the gap. 

“Our growth is going to be hampered without new labor sources,” XL Construction Senior Vice President Chris Bailey, who is based in the Bay Area, told Construction Dive. “They’ve got to come from somewhere.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is facing a backlog of work permit applications nearing 1.5 million. The Biden administration pushed to extend the time frame for expired work permits by 18 months as a strategy to curb the risk and factors of workforce shortages, Politico reported.

Efforts in Congress to decrease the employment backlog have met with resistance from Republicans, who could retake control of both chambers in next month's midterm elections. Immigration has continued to be a hot-button issue, with politicians in GOP-controlled states shipping migrants to cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and even Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, causing rippling humanitarian crises.

There have long been debates over how best to fix the U.S. immigration system, but efforts have persistently fallen short.

“While the ideas on how to fix our nation’s immigration system are not lacking, there is a lack of will to do the work required to find a compromise,” Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen told Construction Dive. “Immigration reform will likely go largely unaddressed while the arguments over partisan proposals get louder and employers continue to struggle under the current system.”