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Friday, Jul 19, 2024
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Immigration Reform: What’s the Real Estate Impact?

Recent debate over the fate of the nation’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program has renewed discussions over the potential impacts that Trump administration immigration policies will have on sectors including commercial real estate and construction.

In a new national report — assembled prior to the recent announced end to DACA within six months — researchers at brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield note that foreign-born workers fill 31 percent of U.S. buildings and grounds cleaning and maintenance jobs, and 25 percent of construction positions.

Half of all visa holders in the H-1B program — the nation’s second largest worker program in terms of the number of visas issued — reside in just five states, including California. Cuts in H-1B programs could especially impact the ability of San Diego and other cities to fill jobs such as computer analysts, programmers and software developers.

While it remains to be seen what immigration policy changes get implemented, Cushman researchers note that previously proposed visa reductions will likely create additional challenges for corporate space occupiers already seeing full employment. “Fewer foreign-born workers in the U.S. will also create challenges for the real estate industry in terms of meeting construction demand and supplying other critical roles.”

Citing Census Bureau figures, Cushman reports that 61 percent of foreign-born U.S. residents are in the nation’s 10 largest cities. The percentage of San Diego residents who are foreign born is 26.6 percent — not as high as New York (37.2 percent) or Los Angeles (38.2 percent), but higher than Chicago (21.1 percent). San Diego’s percentage places it fifth among the 10 biggest cities, with San Jose’s the highest at 38.9 percent.

Among western U.S. metro areas, Salt Lake City (4.6 percent) and San Diego (4.4 percent) saw the biggest jumps in the number of immigrants obtaining permanent resident status between 2011 and 2015, over the prior five-year period; more than 100,000 immigrants obtained permanent resident status in San Diego during 2011-2015. Meanwhile, most of the larger U.S. “gateway” markets saw percentage declines over that period.

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