A massive illegal employment problem in the housing industry

On March 9, 2016, the Colorado Legislature once again failed to address the key issue that provides the impetus for illegal immigration in the United States. By a vote of 7 to 2, the members of the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee in the House killed HB 16-1202, a bill that would have required all businesses in Colorado with ten or more employers to participate in the Federal E-Verify program.

E-Verify is an easy to use program which verifies the work eligibility status of newly hired employees. E-Verify is fast and free, and it's the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce. E-Verify compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. 

The Colorado Legislature doesn't think it's a good idea to verify the legal work status of Colorado workers, and in fact has refused to require mandatory use of E-Verify for over a decade of legislation introduced almost every year going back to the special session of 2006 called by Governor Owens to address immigration issues. 

Even though polls have consistently shown a great majority of Coloradans oppose illegal employment and it's a violation of Federal law since the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA) Amnesty was enacted in 1986, a coalition of special interests rule the day.

Simply put, many Democrats look the other way on illegal immigration (either beholden to business interests or looking for future votes), while Republicans representing businesses interests love the cheap, illegal labor that has contributed to the widening income inequality between those at the top, and those on the bottom of the economic ladder. 

While it can be said the collapse of the economy in 2008 eliminated jobs in all sectors of the economy and coincided with the decline of illegal immigration, no sector of the economy was hit harder than the housing business going from 1.8 million housing starts to under 400,000.

By 2015 with housing recovering to the point of another boom cycle, illegal Mexican immigration increased significantly by 740,000 nationally. After falling or growing little in recent years, the number of Mexican immigrants (and illegal aliens) again seems to be growing significantly.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is projecting a housing start level in 2016 of 1.26 million units nationally. Colorado and the Front Range in particular is currently rated one of the hottest housing markets in the country, with year-over-year appreciation from January 2015 to January 2016 of 10.9 percent.2

In Colorado 22 percent of the illegal workforce (or about 26,000) is in construction, more than any other single sector of the economy, according to the Census Bureau. From the foregoing statistics, it's clear that there is a direct correlation between the illegal population increase (workforce) and the labor requirements of the production housing industry.

By the numbers, its clear illegal immigration is a product of illegal employment, but nobody wants to talk about it.

The housing industry is perfectly set up for utilizing illegal alien labor. Few may realize it, but a home building business like Shea Homes or Richmond Homes (Mizel's company) have relatively few employees consisting of management and administrative/sales personnel – the homes themselves are built by subcontractors. Many times there are subcontractors working for subcontractors working for even more subcontractors. A typical “framing contractor” contracts with the builder to frame the house supplying the materials and labor on a “turnkey basis”, then contracts out the framing labor to yet another “contractor”, who then “contracts” with individual crews who are more often than not illegal alien workers.

There is very little accountability, and lots of plausible deniability. And the dirty little secret that nobody wants to acknowledge (particularly liberals who are supposed to be in support of the working class) is that many of these illegal aliens are exploited with very low pay and no workplace safeguards such as worker's compensation. 

The Colorado Legislature is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Instead of addressing the problem at its source, i.e. illegal employment, and passing legislation like HB 16-1202 mandating E-Verify, the Legislature (and the Governor, regardless of party) enables and continues the problem by doing the bidding of the ruling political class and its parochial economic interests.


This blog post is based on the article: Illegal alien labor in the Colorado housing industry.