Comprehensive immigration reform would lead to millions of new jobs, reduce federal deficits by nearly $1 trillion, and ensure that American businesses can hire the employees they need to continue to drive economic growth.
Restaurants, like many other American industries, depend on immigrants to fill positions in their workforce that are critical to their ability to continue to operate and expand. Across America, businesses from a wide spectrum of industries, including education, science, engineering, medicine, hospitality and manufacturing, report having difficulty filling important positions. Over the next decade, the restaurant industry is expected to add 1.8 million positions, an increase of 14 percent in the total restaurant workforce. However, the native-born U.S. workforce is only expected to grow by 10 percent, and the percentage of 16-24 year olds entering the workforce—an important source of restaurant employees—isn’t expected to grow at all. Without meaningful immigration reform, many restaurants and other businesses will be unable to keep up with the growing demand for their goods and services. Overall economic growth will slow and fewer jobs will be created.
Key elements of reform
It’s time for Congress to pass its first significant immigration reform measures since 1986. In order to maximize the ability of businesses to grow and hire, immigration reform measures must contain the following elements:
A clear path to legalization. The current U.S. immigration system targets otherwise law-abiding individuals who are working and contributing to the economy and their communities. It’s essential that any immigration reform legislation stop this enforcement-only approach and include a path to legalization for the nation’s 13 million undocumented workers.
A simple federal employment verification system. Restaurants, like all employers, are responsible for taking steps to ensure that the employees they hire are legally allowed to work in the U.S. But while a federal verification system, E-Verify, is available, laws governing its use vary among states and localities. This makes compliance difficult, particularly for businesses that operate multiple locations in different states. Congress must pass legislation that implements a national law governing E-Verify use that also hold employers harmless for actions they take in good faith based on information provided by the system.
Improved border security that promotes travel and tourism. Travel and tourism are important economic drivers and are responsible for about one-fifth of all restaurant sales. While immigration reform should include steps to prevent illegal U.S. border crossings and improve overall border security, those steps should not get in the way of legitimate travel and tourism.
While the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in July 2014, the House of Representatives has said it will consider immigration reform measures individually. The House is currently considering the Legal Workforce Act, which calls for national use of E-Verify. The National Restaurant Association supports the legislation.
Contact: Angelo Amador, Ryan Kearney