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Sanctuary City Ban Could Worsen Labor Shortage

SB4 might make it harder to fill jobs in Texas.

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Construction workers are in demand in Houston.

A new Associated Press report says some workers are leaving Texas because of state and federal immigration crackdowns.

The state's sanctuary city ban, called SB 4, doesn't go into effect until September 1st, but anxiety surrounding it is underway now. Some Houston industries were already experiencing worker shortages and now the labor pool may shrink more.

Jeff Nielsen is the executive director of the Houston Contractors Association. He said civil construction projects are highly regulated, so employees are either U.S. citizens or in this country legally. Other types of projects could be impacted by SB 4, though.

"If you're building a house, if you're a roofer, who knows where those guys come from," he said.

He said that in Houston, there aren't enough people who are qualified, documented, and willing to do the work.

"We have about 100 contractor members in the industry. I'd say at least half of them right now could hire at least one more crew, and a crew is usually four to five guys," he said.

Jonathan Horowitz is the CEO of Legacy Restaurants and president of the Houston Restaurant Association. He said the restaurant industry is struggling to find enough staff.

"So there's a bit of a question as to how laws like this, if implemented, may impact that worker shortage that we've been experiencing," he said.

He said some restaurant owners have heard from employees who are afraid to commute to work.

"Any time there's uncertainty or people have concern about their day-to-day wellbeing and ability to get to and from a place of employment, I think that uncertainty and that concern creates disruption," he said.

According to an estimate from the Pew Research Center, there are almost 600,000 undocumented immigrants living in Houston.

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