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As the Senate begins floor debate on a comprehensive immigrate reform proposal, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is continuing its push for legislation that will allow the restaurant industry to continue its role as a leading job creator.
"The restaurant industry is an industry of tremendous opportunity, with a workforce of more than 13 million employees that is reflective of America's diversity," says Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the NRA. "The National Restaurant Association has worked with the Senate's bipartisan 'Gang of Eight,' the Administration, and key House stakeholders on sensible reforms to fix the nation's broken immigration system. We urge both chambers to continue to move forward and address these important issues.
The NRA has advocated for years on the need for meaningful immigration reform. The restaurant industry'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 decriminalizes and depoliticizes the process and people. The NRA 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 verifcation system that provides employers certainty in regard to their legal obligations, while preempting state and local laws. The patchwork of state and local immigration lawas 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 Border Secuity While Welcoming Legitimate Foreign Travelers: While measures to prevent illegal border crossings must improve, so must the ability to encourage legitimate travel and tourism to spur U.S. job growth. Immigration reform provides major opportunities to strengthen the nation's economic competitiveness in the hospitality and travel industries, while bringing more foreign spending and investment dollards into U.S. markets.
Restaurants employ more minority managers than any other industry and provide one of the best paths to achieving the "American Dream." The number of African-American-owned restaurants jumped 188 percent between 1997 and 2007, while Hispanic restaurant ownership increased 80 percent and Asian restaurant ownership increased 60 percent.