The following post was authored by Scott Braddock and originally published on Construction Citizen.
The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the struggle of Southeast Texas to recover from the monster storm is front and center in the newest edition of The Rational Middle Immigration documentary series.
Filmmaker Gregory Kallenberg and former Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Loren Steffy are tackling the issue of immigration reform one step at a time this new video series that launched late last year. In the third installment, they get to the big question following Harvey: Who will rebuild the nation's fourth largest city?
As Construction Citizen previously reported, Harvey’s landfall along with the end of a program that shields some young immigrants from deportation and Texas’ new ban on sanctuary cities have created the perfect storm for an already strained labor force.
Pat Kiley, Managing Director at FMI, told the filmmakers the recovery will take three things: Time, money, “and above all, it’s gonna take many additional workers.”
"As any other American city, we're gonna need immigrants to maintain our GPD," Kiley said.
“One of the challenges we face is the storm has acted as an economic event of its own. Not a good one but one that's created a great demand for labor," said Mike Holland, Chief Operating Officer at MAREK. “Our country and in particular our industry are facing a workforce crisis," Holland said, noting that roughly 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day. “The next significant number is millennials and their expectations of jobs are a little bit different."
Calling immigration reform a “value proposition" that should enjoy bipartisan support, Holland said it is too bad that "We talk about right and wrong and left and right and we never talk about value.”
“At the end of the day, anybody that should be here should be here in the country because they bring something to the fabric of our society,” Holland said.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said immigrants – both documented and undocumented – are already contributing to Houston’s economy and they should be allowed to thrive.
“Everybody in this city, and I'm saying everybody, not just those with papers, contributes to the economic engine of this city and this region, which impacts the rest of this country,” Turner said. "We don't build walls, we build relationships."
“Because the city of Houston is so diverse, and because we place so much emphasis not just on being diverse but being inclusive, the city is standing," Turner said.
Check out the latest edition of The Rational Middle below.