National Restaurant Association Commends Introduction of Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill

(Washington, DC) – The National Restaurant Association today applauded Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for introducing the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act. 

“This is a positive step towards achieving comprehensive immigration reform,” said John Gay, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy at the National Restaurant Association.  “Although we are reviewing the language of the bill, we do know that the STRIVE Act includes essential elements to fix the broken immigration system.  The Association commends Representatives Gutierrez and Flake for beginning the immigration debate in the 110th Congress.”

The restaurant and foodservice industry is the largest private sector employer in the U.S. with 12.8 million employees, as well as one of the largest private sector employers of immigrant workers.  The National Restaurant Association estimates the number of jobs in the industry to grow by 15 percent over the next 10 years, but the U.S. government estimates the labor force will grow only 10 percent.  Even more troubling, the government estimates that the 16 to 24-year-old age group, which makes up about half of our industry’s workforce, will not grow at all over the next decade.

The National Restaurant Association continues to support comprehensive reform that strengthens our borders; provides a way for employers to hire from abroad when U.S. workers are not available; creates a program for the undocumented to pay a penalty before earning permanent legal status; and establishes a verification system that is effective, inexpensive and reliable, and does not unfairly penalize employers.

“A rational immigration policy is essential to our industry’s continued growth.  Immigrants not only make up a large portion of the restaurant industry’s workforce, but they also make significant contributions as consumers in our nation’s restaurants and as entrepreneurs, incorporating ethnic and cultural influences as they start up restaurants of their own,” said Peter Kilgore, Association acting interim president and chief executive officer.  “We will continue to work with members of both the House and the Senate to ensure passage of workable comprehensive immigration reform.”

The National Restaurant Association serves as co-chair of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which is comprised of more than 40 national businesses and trade associations seeking reform of America’s broken immigration system.  Please visit the EWIC website at:  www.ewic.org