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National Restaurant Association - McCain: Immigration reform “the will of the people”

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McCain: Immigration reform “the will of the people”

Comprehensive immigration reform would produce economic benefits that would be felt across the country, but current polarization in Congress makes it difficult to predict the future of reform legislation, Sen. John McCain told attendees at a National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Education Foundation joint Board breakfast discussion Thursday.

Politics aside, McCain, who worked with a group of three Republicans and four Democrats to spearhead legislation that passed the Senate in July, believes passing comprehensive immigration reform is in the country’s best interests. In addition to expanding the available workforce for restaurants and other industries, reform would reduce the federal deficit by $850 billion over 20 years, McCain said, citing Congressional Budget Office research.

McCain pointed to recent polls of Americans that show strong support for immigration reform. “It’s obvious what the will of the people is,” McCain, an Arizona Republican, told NRA board members. “I have to believe that, in our system of government, over time, the will of the people is reflected by their elected representatives.” However, while the Senate was able to pass comprehensive reform legislation by a 68-32 vote, McCain acknowledged that the path in the House will be more difficult, and that opponents of the legislation are vocal and committed to their position. But there’s still reason to be optimistic that the House will take up immigration reform legislation, McCain said.

“I keep seeing signs of life” in the House, McCain said. “We are trying to negotiate with our friends in the House, trying to get them to at least move forward with some legislation. I believe [House Speaker John Boehner] would like to do it. I think a number of others would like to do it.” McCain thanked the NRA for its strong support of immigration reform and said continued advocacy and leadership from the business community will be critical for the legislation to succeed.

“You are the engine that makes our economy grow,” McCain said. “You are the first employer…You know that these [11 million undocumented workers] provide a workforce in America that is vital. As you visit your representatives, I ask you to highlight this issue. I’m not sure when the best time will be…but action on this issue will be more helpful sooner rather than later.”

The National Restaurant Association supports comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a clear path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented workers, national use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, and improved border security that does not impede legal travel and tourism.

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