Texas Construction Companies Complain about Illegal Workers Fleeing State

Construction Worker - AP Photo
AP File Photo: AP Photo/Ed Wray

A construction company and the chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association are complaining that illegal workers are leaving the state because of Texas’ tough stance on immigration law.

Oscar Martinez has a drywall company, and he says that one-third of his 20 employees have left the state, reported Yahoo! Finance.

“I took a big hit since my workers started hearing crazy stories about being deported, and they panicked,” he said. Martinez claims “The Americans I hire can’t last in this job more than half a day.” Citing the Workers Defense Project, the media outlet reported that about half of the construction workforce in the country are illegal aliens.

The industry is complaining of late projects as a result of the flight out of the state.

“Similar fears have sent shockwaves through many sectors of the U.S. economy. In most cases, demographers and economic experts say it’s too early to quantify the full impact of workforce shortages fueled by immigration fears, but anecdotal evidence is widespread,” Yahoo! Finance reported. “The executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group, was reported to say, “I’ve heard from growers, construction, and the service industry about a destabilization of the workforce in Texas and around the country.” “It’s definitely happening more in states that are considering major immigration enforcement policies.”

“These sorts of employers hate the free-market. In the face of high labor costs, they refuse to innovate or streamline. Instead, they take subsidies in the form of cheap illegal alien labor and call their fellow citizens lazy and arrogant just for wanting traditional American living standards. But when do we fight back and call these employers what they are: entitled, avaricious, and anti-American,” Dale Wilcox, the executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute told Breitbart Texas.

Construction companies often “misclassify” workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Doing so gives them an unfair competitive advantage over companies who properly classify their workers as employees. The misclassification also cheats the state and federal government out of employment taxes and unemployment insurance premiums. When workers are laid off from these unscrupulous companies, workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, Breitbart Texas reported.

The construction industry, particularly certain home builders, effectively blocked legislation in the state legislature in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the toughest anti-sanctuary city law in the United States in early May. Senate Bill 4 provides for criminal penalties (Class A misdemeanor) for police chiefs and sheriffs that refuse to honor immigration detainers, and they can be removed from office. Local entities, a state justice agency, or campus police department, would be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,500 a day for violating the new law.

Breitbart Texas provided extensive coverage on SB 4 as legislators fought to get it through the House and Senate chambers, and the aftermath as cities in Texas are filing lawsuits to block the law. SB 4 is set to go into effect on September 1 of this year.

Texas has been in the forefront of the sanctuary city fight. An ICE report on March 20 exposing sanctuary jurisdictions ranked Travis County, Texas, as number one in the country for not complying with ICE detainers. As Breitbart Texas reported, well over 70 percent of the 206 criminal aliens released during the week of January 28-Februay 3 were released by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

The clampdown on illegal immigration in the U.S. has also hit industries beyond construction companies. Breitbart News reported in late May that once the Trump Administration came into power and started enforcing federal immigration law, farmers in California began complaining about a labor shortage. Farmers dealt with the issue by using technology, as an example, a leaf puller can replace 25 workers. Other farmers have decided to quit agriculture entirely reported the Los Angeles Times.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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