Home » Construction Groups Say Obama Immigration Directive Will Slow Search for Legislative Fix
President Obama has announced that he will issue an executive order that would prevent millions of immigrants now in the U.S. illegally from being deported, but only temporarily and if they meet certain conditions, including registering with the government, passing a background check and paying what he termed their “fair share of taxes.”
The directive, which Obama announced on Nov. 20 in an evening address to the nation, also provides deportation protection only to those who have been in the U.S. for more than five years and those who have children who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.
Individuals who satisfy the new requirements would be able to request “relief from deportation” and seek “work authorization,” but only for three-year periods, according to a White House summary of the not-yet-issued executive order
Construction industry groups, which have supported past efforts to produce wide-ranging legislative changes in the immigration system, said Obama’s executive order would hamper the effort to pass a comprehensive bill.
Geoff Burr, Associated Builders and Contractors vice president of government affairs, said in a statement “An abrupt, temporary executive action ultimately does more harm than good in fixing our broken immigration system.”
Burr said that the directive “jeopardizes a long-term fix that is workable for our economy and national security.”
Stephen E. Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America CEO, said that “the president’s unilateral action on immigration unfortunately offers only a temporary solution while claiming to seek permanence.”
Sandherr added that “his action makes bipartisan [immigration] reform more difficult to achieve and likely endangers other legislative initiatives that require bipartisan solutions and cooperation between Congress and the administration.”
National Association of Home Builders Chairman Kevin Kelly said, “While President Obama’s executive action may provide relief for a portion of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S., this piecemeal approach to immigration reform is no long-term answer.”
Kelly said that legislation is the only way to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
Terry O'Sulllivan, Laborers' International Union of North America general president, said that the union is pleased that the directive will help 5 million immigrant families, but expressed concern that its "temporary nature" will mean continued uncertainty for many immigrants.