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Deals & Dealmakers

US contractors hail immigration plan to welcome skilled workers

STEPHEN SANDHERR

Associated General Contractors of America has welcomed a move to allow more skilled immigrant workers into the US.

President Trump last week unveiled a long-awaited immigration overhaul that could dramatically alter how the U.S. accepts people into the country, upending the system in order to favor admissions based on merit rather than family ties.

“If adopted, our plan will transform America’s immigration system into the pride of our nation and the envy of the modern world,” Trump said.

The proposal would judge immigrants with a points-based system that would favor high-skilled workers — accounting for age, English proficiency, education and whether the applicant has a well-paying job offer.

Currently, only about 12 percent of immigrants are admitted based on employment and skills, while 66 percent are admitted based on family connections inside the U.S. Administration officials estimate that those numbers would flip to 57 and 33 percent, respectively, under the Trump plan.

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, tentatively welcomed the plan.

“The President rightly understands that the nation’s immigration policy must allow for more skilled workers, including those with construction skills, to legally join the workforce if our economy is to continue to expand. Considering that this proposal appears to, correctly, redefine the federal government’s definition of skilled workers to include individuals who can perform construction services such as welders and electricians, this measure should provide needed relief to the construction workforce shortages that are already affecting construction schedules and costs. As important, measures like this have the potential to provide needed relief while the industry and public officials work to rebuild the once-robust domestic pipeline for recruiting and preparing young adults to enter high-paying construction careers.

“And while this measure does not tackle broader immigration challenges, such as addressing workers already in the country, it does continue the discussion about reforming our broken immigration system. In the meantime we look forward to working with Congress and the administration to make sure a final immigration measure helps meet the workforce needs of the construction industry and addresses broader immigration challenges.”

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