Immigrants Play Disproportionally Large Role in Repairing Homes Following 2021 Freeze
The 2021 Texas winter freeze and power crisis left hundreds of thousands of Texans with burst or leaking pipes, interior damage, and no running water in their homes and businesses. A recent article in Houston Public Media highlighted the critical role that immigrants will play in repairing Texans’ pipes and homes in the coming weeks.
“Texas' largest insurer, State Farm, has reported more than 40,000 claims in the state related to the winter storm. That's ten times the total number of burst pipe claims they saw nationally in 2020,” reported Elizabeth Trovall on the unusually high number of burst pipes.
According to the New American Economy analysis in the article, “in the city of Houston, about 40% of plumbers and 63% of construction workers are foreign born. In Texas, 27% of the state’s plumbers and 40% of construction workers are foreign born, though immigrants make up about 17% of the population,” and more than 75% of drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers nationwide are immigrants.
The weeks-long wait times for plumbing repairs Texans are experiencing would last even longer without immigrants. “Imagine all these stories you've heard, how long people (are) waiting for plumbers, and increase that by 37%,” said Steven Scarborough, strategic initiatives manager for the Center for Houston's Future.
New American Economy founder Jeremy Robbins also said that many of Texas’ construction workers have Temporary Protected Status or are unauthorized immigrants, and that passing legislation to help protect them will benefit the workers and Texans.
Legislation like ID and Tax, which would require unauthorized immigrants to earn their legal status while ensuring they pass background checks and are properly identified and taxed, would allow the unauthorized immigrants who work and contribute to our society to continue doing so in a legal way.