Immigration Checks on Construction Workers

February 4, 2020

A law has just recently passed in Pennsylvania that requires construction companies to run the immigration and work status of future hires. Under the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, commonly known as E-Verify law, private construction companies will need to verify their employees’ identities against federal systems and the Social Security Administration. Advocates for immigration are decrying the controversial law, while labor unions applaud E-Verify.

Several states implemented a similar law; some states use the database system for construction workers, while others use it for more industries. Pro-labor groups insist that the E-Verify law will mean more work for those with a legal status, while exposing construction companies that exploit illegal immigrants. Advocates believe that this is not the case; the passing of this law will further increase the anti-immigrant narrative by the Trump administration and their supporters. They also argue that the law will hurt laborers and sway companies from hiring immigrants, regardless of their status.

The passing of the E-Verify law in Pennsylvania is part of an increasing trend across the country. Previously, only federal government workers were subjected to such a system. Since 2015, with the implementation of this law, more than half of newly hired workers are screened through the E-Verify system or a similar system.

Issues for the Construction Industry

This could pose a problem for the construction industry in Pennsylvania, where most employers stated previously that there were not enough skilled workers to hire. Statistics from other states that implemented such a law have not shown an increase in workers in any of the affected industries.

The law passed without Governor Tom Wolf’s signature; in Pennsylvania, laws can pass if no veto is made within 10 days. The law had overwhelming support leading up to its passing. Proponents of such laws argued that the use of illegal immigrants in the construction industry undermined a company’s market share, although there is not enough research to support that argument. In fact, a similar law in Arizona showed no increase in hires, though the numbers of undocumented workers decreased.

Pro-immigrant groups fear that this will only scare immigrants from the construction industry in Pennsylvania, regardless of work status, and push them toward other industries. Advocates suggest organizing these undocumented workers instead of instilling the fear of deportation and, ultimately, increasing the labor shortage. They also fear that this law will allow employers to profile workers illegally and unnecessarily send them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Advocate for Immigrant Workers

With the E-Verify law passing in Pennsylvania, the labor shortage may increase, and immigrant families may suffer. If you or a loved one was affected by the new law, contact the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC. We will answer all your questions and protect your rights. Call us today at 215-496-0690 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.