Issues & Advocacy

Issue Brief

Immigration Reform

The National Restaurant Association supports sensible, meaningful steps to reform America’s immigration system. Our principles for reform include:

An efficient, reliable federal employment verification system. Many states and localities have passed their own employment verification laws. This patchwork of laws creates an untenable system by forcing restaurants and other employers to comply with different laws across jurisdictions. The Association supports a consistent national standard that helps employers hire in a timely, efficient and respectful manner. Employers should not be held liable or face penalties if they use and rely on a national verification system in good faith, and should be given adequate opportunity to rectify errors. The Association has supported the “Legal Workforce Act” in recent years. We hope this measure will be used as the benchmark for any future effort.

Improved border security that still promotes travel and tourism. The United States needs stronger security at its borders. However, any steps to increase security should also facilitate legitimate travel and tourism to the United States. Travel and tourism drives about a fifth of all restaurant sales and boosts economic activity across all sectors.

A new program to legally match willing workers with willing employers. Immigrants play a key role in the restaurant industry’s growth and diversity. We need a viable temporary-worker visa program for non-agricultural employers, including hospitality businesses. Such a program would play a key role in addressing the needs of restaurant and other hospitality employers for legal, year-round, temporary workers.  It is time to create a visa program that allows legal foreign-born workers to come into the United States under a controlled process to work year-round in the service economy.

The Facts

Today’s immigration system is broken. It makes economic sense to fix it.

Restaurants embody the American Dream like no other industry. They’re often the employer of choice for immigrants who come to America in search of new opportunities. The relationship benefits both sides: Immigrants gain valuable job experience and immediate access to opportunities, and restaurateurs can fill positions at every level.

Over the next decade, restaurants will likely create more jobs than the U.S.-born workforce can fill. The industry is expected to add 1.8 million positions over the next decade, a 14 percent increase in the industry’s workforce. But the U.S.-born workforce is expected to grow by just 10 percent over the same period. And the population of 16- to 24-year olds, a major source of restaurant employees, isn’t expected to grow at all