A group of industry leaders from the National Restaurant Association (NRA), led by president and CEO Dawn Sweeney, will meet with White House officials Friday, April 19, to layout immigration reform priorities for the industry.
Following the meeting, the Association will hold a teleconference with media at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Earlier today, the industry leaders met with members of the “Gang of Eight” to discuss this critical issue for the restaurant and foodservice industry and the nation.
The restaurant industry has advocated for years on the need for meaningful immigration reform. The Association’s key priorities include the following:
- Permanent legalization: A pathway to legal work status for undocumented workers is essential. Productive members of society must be able to work and live within our communities in a manner that de-criminalizes and de-politicizes the process and the people. The Association supports a system that respects all individuals who want to work legally by giving them a pathway to do so.
- National Employment Verification System: The U.S. must adopt one national uncomplicated federal employment verification system that provides employers certainty in regard to their legal obligations, while preempting state and local laws. The current patchwork of state and local immigration laws—sometimes inconsistent with each other—exposes employers to unfair liability and an untenable regulatory structure. A more workable E-Verify system would allow restaurant operators to treat prospective employees with respect and manage the application process in a timely and efficient manner. Many in the restaurant industry supported the “Legal Workforce Act” in the last Congress as a model employment verification system.
- Improve Our Border Security, While Welcoming Legitimate Foreign Travelers: While measures to prevent illegal border crossings must improve, so must our ability to encourage legitimate travel and tourism to spur U.S. job growth. Immigration reform provides major opportunities to strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness in the hospitality and travel industries, while bringing more foreign spending and investment dollars into U.S. markets.
The restaurant industry is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer comprised of 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets employing 13.1 million people—about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.
The industry, like the United States, is very diverse. Restaurants employ more minority managers than any other industry, and 50 percent of restaurant owners are women.