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National Restaurant Association - NRA, lawmakers meet on immigration reform

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NRA, lawmakers meet on immigration reform

National Restaurant Association leaders have held meetings with the White House and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who recently introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The bill was introduced just prior to the NRA’s 2013 Public Affairs Conference in Washington.  Nearly 600 restaurateurs visited Capitol Hill and stated their support for immigration reform during meetings with legislators and legislative staff.

The 844-page “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” includes a pathway for undocumented workers and their families to gain legal status through a multi-step process, a national employment verification system—known as E-Verify—to provide employers with certainty regarding their legal obligations and avoid confusion with state and local laws, and improved border security to prevent illegal border crossings while promoting legitimate travel and tourism to the United States. The NRA has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform that contains all three elements.

The NRA’s labor and workforce team is looking at the bill’s details, says Angelo Amador, NRA vice president of labor and workforce policy. “We’re one of the few industries that really cares about the totality of the bill.”

Hearings on the bill have already begun, and a bill could make it to the floor of the Senate by early summer, Amador said. Grassroots advocacy will be essential for the bill’s success, he said. “That’s why the timing of this, with almost 600 restaurateurs in D.C. for the NRA’s Public Affairs Conference, couldn’t be better.”

Bipartisan cooperation is evident in the legislation, with Democrats and Republicans reaching a compromise on such provisions as a mandatory E-Verify program, Amador said.

The NRA’s talks with the White House and three members of the Gang of Eight—Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—may be valuable in moving the legislation forward. Restaurateurs’ recent meetings with their lawmakers also have also been encouraging, Amador said, with some legislators who opposed earlier versions of comprehensive reform signaling a willingness to consider supporting the latest compromise. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said during an April 23 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the White House supports the legislation.

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