New U.S. immigration policy will affect the construction industry

A recently enacted policy by the Trump Administration, called the Public Charge rule, could institute severe complications for the construction industry, according to a new article on the topic.

Notably, it went into effect on February 24, and does the following: “The rule, which was finalized last year, expands the definition of who is considered a ‘public charge’ to include immigrants receiving government assistance through programs such as housing assistance and food stamps,” according to the M Report.

The rule "applies to foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the U.S. and to nonimmigrant workers seeking to extend their stay or change their visa status,” as explained by the article.

Interestingly, there could be major effects to the residential construction industry as a result of this newly enacted rule. “The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) said the Trump Administration’s Public Charge rule could impede legal immigration and the residential construction industry, which is already facing a labor shortage,” according to the article.

This comes as the NAHB already reported in 2019 that there’s a shortage of construction workers and tariffs on an astounding $10 billion of tariffs affecting building materials. Meanwhile, “concerns over housing finance have impacted housing affordability,” as noted by the article. 

“Removing regulatory barriers that contribute to the increased costs of housing will pave the way to homeownership,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde in a statement. “Homebuilders and the residential construction community are committed to working with Congress to ensure homeownership is within reach of hard-working families.”

However, not all publications and research considers the construction industry in major trouble for 2020. According to a Deloitte report, for example, there could be opportunity for the space. Construction “firms are poised to potentially benefit from several significant opportunities in the industry: the US transportation and infrastructure upgrade initiative and the rise of smart city mega-projects, to name two,” as noted by Deloitte’s research.

However, the organization also offers information on what business leaders in the industry need to do in order to achieve success. “To remain competitive, industry leaders will likely continue to define a new vision and map a comprehensive digital blueprint to realign their business and operational processes to reflect the opportunities that innovation and technology provide,” as noted by Deloitte.

In sum, while the newly enacted Public Charge rule could spell difficult for the construction industry in the coming months, other research shows that businesses can be successful through strategic thinking and organizational innovation.