Retailers and Restaurants Support Immigration Effort

Discussion
Jan 30, 2013

An outline of possible immigration legislation put forth by eight U.S. senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — and supported by President Obama has received a positive response from associations representing retailers and restaurant operators.

Following are excerpts of statements from retail and restaurant industry groups on the subject:

"Our current immigration system is broken and unworkable, and it is in desperate need of reform," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. "We applaud the President’s commitment and Congress’ resolve to address immigration reform this year."

Mr. Shay added, "In order to compete in the global marketplace, where trade and talent are borderless, the United States needs an immigration and visa system that is both agile and responsive, and addresses employers’ needs and demands and those of today’s more agile and transient workforce."

"The National Restaurant Association continues to support federal immigration reforms that include a legal visa system that meets the needs of U.S. employers. An accurate and reliable employment verification system is one part of the fix that is needed to make immigration laws work for U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy," said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association. "But it’s only a first step — eventually, worksite enforcement must be accompanied by provisions that give employers who have made every reasonable effort to hire Americans a way to hire legal foreign workers to keep their businesses open and contributing to the U.S. economy."

While business leaders were supportive of the bipartisan effort, there still remains opposition from conservatives inside and out of Congress.

"This is another amnesty bill that Americans cannot afford," Lou Barletta (R-PA), the leader of the conservative House immigration caucus, told The Daily Beast website. "We have 22 million Americans out of work, and providing a pathway to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants that would cost approximately $2.6 trillion net over the next 10 years is a very bad idea."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Fox News that the outline of the immigration bill amounted to a "large-scale amnesty" that would be"likely to add trillions of dollars to the debt over time, accelerate Medicare’s and Social Security’s slide into insolvency, and put enormous strain on our public assistance programs."

Does immigration reform that makes it easier for immigrant and migrant workers to be legally employed deserve the support of the retail and restaurant industries? What key elements do you think must be included in the final legislation for it to work for retailers and restaurant operators?

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12 Comments on "Retailers and Restaurants Support Immigration Effort"

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Ben Ball
BrainTrust

An immigration policy (official or unspoken) that encourages the ready availability of cheaper labor has been tacitly supported by these industries for years—through their hiring practices. Might as well make it formal.

Liquor by the drink became law in North Carolina while I was a senior at UNC. (One of my fraternity brothers made the cover of TIME magazine, pouring the first legal drink at the Marriott in Charlotte.) It was a subject of interest to college seniors turning 21 of course, so I did a paper on the history of NC liquor laws for a public policy course. The most public and adamant opponents of legalization were conservative Protestant ministers. Not much of a surprise, until you dug deep enough to find that their efforts were funded by a small group of prominent “parishioners”—who just happened to be the biggest bootleggers in the state.

Things never change.

David Livingston
Guest
4 years 8 months ago

This is complicated. Immigrants come here because we have massive labor shortage and the real unemployment rate is about zero. If we simply eliminated welfare, food stamps, and unemployment insurance, or at least reduced it and make it harder to get, more people would opt back into the workforce, eliminating the need for foreign workers. It might be a good thing all around to make immigrant and migrant workers have legal status. But by eliminating the need for these workers, the problem would solve itself.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

This is an absolute political/social/national security issue that can’t be addressed without bringing in self interests and personal views, whether from me, or such people as Michael Bloomberg. Sometime in his term, he made a statement that restaurants in NYC could not exist without the help currently provided by illegal workers. In other words, an elected official endorsing known illegal activity including tax evasion, for profits.

So certainly, restaurants that can benefit from what is essentially an amnesty program for existing illegals and a program to continue bringing in cheap foreign labor will support the idea. They will have to wrestle with the message that it sends to the 22M (really more!) unemployed legal American citizens and the many millions more that are underemployed, and the societal impact from increased government program costs, burdens upon the healthcare and educational systems, and lessened/lost tax revenues.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
As someone who went through the ‘immigration’ process I can tell you it is the most illogical, nonsensical, convoluted and expensive process ever. And I came here from Canada which many think is a mere suburb of the US and I’m a psychologist, one of the professions on a Free Trade list of some kind. And that was just for the Green Card. For citizenship I had to prove I was “an alien of extra-ordinary ability” which will cause some of my dear colleagues here to wonder how I got in at all! Basically that meant I had to prove a global reputation to a 20 something agent who I swear has never so much as watched a foreign movie. I am absolutely thrilled to now hold both citizenships and can’t ever see moving out of Scottsdale. I am grateful beyond words. But when I think of someone with English barely qualifying as a second language, with little or no money, and a much lower level of formal education going through all this I’ve got to say ‘jumping the fence’ would cross my mind too. AZ would implode without our Mexican workers by far the majority of whom are grateful,… Read more »
Roger Saunders
BrainTrust

Immigration reform is definitely needed in the United States. We have been following guidelines that favored family connections for the majority of our Immigrants seeking citizenship. This should not go away.

However, a greater emphasis on skill and investment capabilities are in order. Those skills include both the Science/Math/Technology traits, as well as migrant workers who will seek a path to citizenship via the Dream Act that the Bush Administration proposed some 6 years ago.

If Washington has the wisdom to follow the lead of the “Gang of 8” who are crafting this bill, we will greatly move things forward. If Washington plays excess political cards from the Left and the Right, we’ll be stalled for the next 30 years. That only proceeds to weaken the economy.

The Executive Branch is paying lip service on this issue, in order to judge which way the wind is blowing. That’s fine. It is the Legislative Branch’s duty to write the law. The Executive Branch needs to properly enforce it.

Retail and the channels that they use for goods and services, are properly endorsing the messaging that is flowing from Washington D.C.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
4 years 8 months ago

How many of us really know what will finally be in any projected bill beyond what is now being political pandered? Washington secretly loads all kinds of other things from taxes to pork into it almost all of its laws. So let’s try to find out more details before we jump on or off any pending immigration legislation.

We support the legal road to citizenship as well as those adding elements which will work for retailers and restaurant operators providing they are not subtly designed for additional political purposes.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust
The reality is that we are NOT going to deport 12 million illegals. Amnesty should be an obvious failure, since we did that some time ago, and that’s how we got to the 12 million. The proper approach is to provide a path for the illegals to legitimize themselves, with citizenship being probably a distant goal: secure legal status within reasonably achievable reach; with early documentation and strictly limited up or out visas. The point is that illegals need to earn the right to be here, beyond having sneaked across the border. I don’t presume to have THE answer to HOW that right is post facto going to be earned. But it could be some form of national service, military or otherwise. It could be through economic contribution, accumulated tax payments, etc. The problem is that there is not a lot of basis for trusting a government that operates with thinly disguised contempt for the law. (How many times has the present administration publicly declared their intention to ignore or violate the constitution? Courts? Who listens to Courts? Wall Street Journal about the NLRB.) In my opinion, getting immigration reform done really needs more support than can be mustered by… Read more »
David Schulz
Guest
David Schulz
4 years 8 months ago

Interesting that the “instant poll” question asks whether or not we support some suggestions that may or may not be incorporated in any legislation that may be passed and signed by a President who has already expressed opposition to some points in the proposals.

Who is against immigration reform? No one.

What retailers, restaurants and any legal business wants is clarity. Knowing what the law is, knowing what will be enforced vigorously and what segments will be laxly enforced is much more significant than what the law actually says.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation: “In order to compete in the global marketplace…”

Yeah Matt, sure: without cheap labor we’ll all leave the country to shop and dine out. Not.
Yesterday we were asked—albeit implicitly—if companies share responsibility for workplace safety issues by placing impossible demands on vendors. Today we have the followup: is the public responsible for illegal immigration by demanding $5 worth of service for a $2 price?

Tom Cook
Guest
Tom Cook
4 years 8 months ago
The whole “immigration” thing confuses me. Why do we need a new word when we already have one: moving. Just because you happen to be born on some piece of dirt on one side of an imaginary line, why should you not, if someone on the other side of said imaginary line were willing to pay you to do stuff and/or sell/rent you a place to live, be able to traverse said line and get down to business? Questions of self-ownership aside, this whole issue is a deliberate attempt to create divisions in society that can be exploited by vote-buyers for their own personal gain: take your lowest-skilled “citizens” and make them dependent on welfare and benefits while simultaneously making it illegal for them to sell their labour below some arbitrary price; then, knowing full well that there are jobs that need doing that aren’t worth that price, make your “immigration” system so complex that it’s too much effort for the type of foreigner that wants to escape their homeland’s problems to deal with, thereby encouraging them to find their way over your imaginary line without jumping through the proper hoops. Thus, you not only ensure a constant supply of… Read more »
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
4 years 8 months ago

Living in South Florida, I have seen first-hand the need for immigrants, preferably legal. On one particular project, the founder and I actually contemplated going to a Guatemalan embassy and agreeing to have the entire store chain staffed by Guatemalan immigrants. They came to work on time (sober and drug-free), required very little training, did the work exactly as they were trained to do in a very high-quality fashion, never stole anything, and were very grateful for the employment. These attributes were in stark contrast to the local anglo population which demonstrated essentially the opposite on every count.

We should remember that, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants.

Bob Houk
Guest
Bob Houk
4 years 8 months ago

“We should remember that, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants.” They’re immigrants from Asia.

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