WASHINGTON - The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) expressed support for increased border security that would create better control over the nation's borders and a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that would include a new guest worker program and a viable way to address the undocumented.

"The first step to enacting effective immigration reform legislation is enforcing our borders, but that can't be the final step," said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. "Congress needs to produce legislation that also provides a new guest worker program and earned legalization."

AGC believes that any legislation should provide for an effective new guest worker program that would allow U.S. construction companies to recruit immigrant workers when U.S. workers are not available to fill their needs.

According to AGC, a new visa program should include:

  • A visa that should be valid for a long enough time frame to ensure that the training investment put forth by an employer is not lost.

  • The visa should be renewable and there should be a way to sponsor employees for permanent residency while under the new visa process.

  • If there is a cap, it should be flexible and based on the needs of the marketplace.

  • Individuals using the new visa should have to stay with the sponsoring employer for a certain amount of time (unless abuse of the employee is found) in order to actually address the needs of the employer.

  • All labor and employment laws should apply.

    AGC also supports a path to earned legalization that would include paying fines, learning English, staying employed, paying taxes, and completing criminal background checks before applying for a potential green card.

    The Associated General Contractors of America represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America's leading general contractors and over 11,000 specialty contracting firms. For more information, visit www.agc.org.

    Publication date: 05/15/2006