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Half of Texas’ Construction Workers Are Undocumented Immigrants

A new report released yesterday by the Austin-based Workers Defense Project found that half of all construction workers in Texas are undocumented. The group worked with UT-Austin researchers to determine that nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants worked in the construction field statewide, interviewing 1,200 workers from Dallas, El Paso, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Results were not broken down by city.

“Despite the fact that many sectors of the US economy are dependent on immigrant labor, immigrant workers have not benefited from their contributions to national progress,” the report reads. “Current federal immigration policy denies them the right to work legally, forcing them into an underground economy where low pay, dangerous working conditions, and illegal practices are rampant. Current policy hurts workers, honest businesses, and taxpayers in Texas and the US. Policymakers and businesses are realizing the importance of creating better federal immigration policies that can meet the needs of our dynamic and growing nation, while ensuring the millions of undocumented people living and working in the US can fully participate in their communities and local economies.”

U.S.-born construction workers earned an average of $3.12 per hour more than undocumented workers, who reported earning an average of $11.10/hour. Construction officials were skeptical of the numbers, the American-Statesman reports:

Construction industry representatives said they couldn’t confirm the report’s conclusion that half of Texas construction workers are undocumented.

“That sounds a little high,” said Frank Fuentes, chairman of the Austin-based U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association. Licensed trades like plumbing and electrical tend to have few undocumented immigrants, he said, while specialties like concrete and drywall probably have more than 50 percent undocumented workers, he added.

Jump for the full report:

Immigration Workers Defense Project by

10 comments on “Half of Texas’ Construction Workers Are Undocumented Immigrants

  1. I go by construction sites each day and all of the workers are Mexican instead of black or white. Black unemployment is twice that of white and the black youth unemployment is over 50%. The illegals are taking all of the starter jobs that young people of all races used to have. To add insult to injury, they send part of their pay check back to their native country instead of putting it into our economy – this amounts to billions of dollars annually. Illegal immigration does not help America.

  2. When I lived in Australia and the UK they wouldn’t let me work without a work visa either, how odd that they would follow their own work/immigration laws and regulations. The very idea is silly.

  3. “Who We Are

    Workers Defense Project (WDP) is a membership-based organization that empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships.

    Workers Defense Project was founded in August 2002 by employees and volunteers of Casa Marianella, a local shelter, to address the problem of unpaid wages for Austin’s low-wage workers.

    WDP is a worker center and part of a national movement of organizations that seek to provide low-wage workers with the resources they need to improve their working and living conditions. The project provides a source of power and hope for many low-wage workers who have little access to these important resources. WDP is one of the few organizations in Texas working to address workplace abuse faced by low-wage workers. The organization is one of the most established worker centers in the South and a leader in fighting for fair conditions for working people.”

    Yeah, I’m going to trust their unbiased “study”

  4. Stop being ignorant and calling hispanics mexican. salvadoran and guatemalan populations are growing in the u.s. black males never take up construction jobs most just stick to less hard labor jobs like parking lot security guards. hispanics ask for jobs never money unlike blacks. that’s why their unemployment is over 50%

  5. “hispanics ask for jobs never money unlike blacks. that’s why their unemployment is over 50%”. Exactly the reason that wages stay low. It is BAD for American workers and families.

  6. Halting illegal immigration would go a long way in improving wages and working conditions. I suspect this so-called “work center” is another leftist enterprise that gets government grants to support illegal immigration.

  7. If undocumented construction workers earn an average of $3.12 less than US born construction workers then we’re talking about, if working 40 hours per week, an average of $124.80 a week per worker that Texas is saving for hiring undocumented immigrants (just in construction), that’s $49,920,000.00 a week for all undocumented workers A WEEK, which is $2,595,840,000.00 a year that it’s being saved, this is ONLY in Texas, now imagine the whole US. And here’s people talking about how we affect the economy, that’s just my thought thought.

  8. If undocumented construction workers earn an average of $3.12 less than US born construction workers then we’re talking about, if working 40 hours per week, an average of $124.80 a week per worker that Texas is saving for hiring undocumented immigrants (just in construction), that’s $49,920,000.00 a week for all undocumented workers A WEEK, which is $2,595,840,000.00 a year that it’s being saved, this is ONLY in Texas, now imagine the whole US. And here’s people talking about how we affect the economy, that’s just my thought thought.

  9. Even with this many undocumented workers in construction, there is still a shortage today. Ask any contractor or sub-contractor. There are not enough qualified Americans who want to do this type of work. Think about it, a US citizen could make $15 an hour as a painter or a framer. Why no takers? The undocumented fill a demand. Spare me the politics, this is the reality. We need them if Texas is going to continue to grow.