Already under strain due to years of accelerated development, the construction labor pool could take another hit under the Trump administration's immigration policy goals, according to reports.
President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September, and a series of legal challenges and congressional debates is all that stands between the program's nearly 700,000 immigrant beneficiaries and potential deportation. Eleven percent of those enrolled in DACA, 41,300 people, work in construction, according to a November study by the Migration Policy Institute.
Another 50,300 construction workers from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras are in the country under Temporary Protected Status, which the Trump administration is also fighting against, according to a 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies. Combined with workers in DACA, that means 92,600 construction workers with legal protections to remain in the country are at risk of having those protections removed.
Immigrants of all types make up about 25% of the construction workforce nationwide, Commercial Observer reports, and an unknown-yet-sizable portion of those are wholly undocumented. Some of those workers have likely already been removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the rest are on high alert.
Labor organizers claim thousands of undocumented workers have had pay withheld by supervisors or work permits revoked, CO reports. Such workers are far less likely to fight back against such treatment for fear of being deported by ICE when they show up to court, those organizers said.
The labor pool has become more dependent on immigrant workers since the Great Recession, with white males returning to work in the industry at lower rates.