As a bipartisan immigration bill enters the arena of political and public debate, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) weighed in, focusing mostly on what it called the "deputizing" of the home building community.
"Home builders are home builders. Law enforcement officers are law enforcement officers," NAHB CEO Jerry Howard told BUILDER Online in a telephone interview on Friday. "Builders should not have to enforce the law."
Howard's concerns relate to the possibility of any provisions of the bill holding general contractors "responsible for the hiring decisions made by their subcontractors [which] could have significant repercussions for the nation's business community."
Howard says he hopes that the language in the bill is very clear and leaves no room for any grey areas. Otherwise, the bill will not be effective within the industry.
"We are hoping that when the bill comes out, that they (Congress) put some meat on that bone," he explained. "If it is not well-defined, it will add significant costs to the building of houses."
Howard's statements Friday echoed statements he made earlier in the week concerning self-policing and the dynamics of the builder/contractor relationship. "It makes absolutely no sense to deputize the business community to enforce laws that the federal government has been unable and unwilling to enforce," he said in a released statement. "The Senate needs to put the responsibility of verifying a person's immigration status where it really belongs - with the employer who hires and pays them.
"Such a change in our immigration laws would be unfair, disruptive, and almost impossible to enforce. In effect, U.S. employers would be required to literally verify the legal status of millions of workers they never hired. For residential construction, this would drive up the cost of housing and devastate an industry already reeling from the effects of the worst housing downturn in almost two decades."
If the bill becomes a law, 12 million illegal aliens will have an opportunity to become legal U.S. citizens. But the bill also proposes tougher border security.
Howard says the NAHB will take a hard-line stance on the issue when the language of the bill is released next week.