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Association Teams With Broad-Based Coalition to Ease Labor Shortage, Urge Passage of Immigration Bills

August 7, 2000

The National Restaurant Association is turning up the heat on Congress, urging it to pass three specific bills which would help address the labor shortage facing the restaurant industry. The bills also would deal fairly with many immigrants currently working in this country who are trapped in a legal and bureaucratic maze jeopardizing their residency status.

The Association made its latest comments during a Capitol Hill press conference with a range of groups across the political spectrum that are allied on certain facets of the immigration issue. Included in the coalition are labor groups, including the AFL-CIO and Unite; family advocacy groups, including National Immigration Forum, National Council of LaRaza and the U.S. Catholic Conference; and conservative business groups, including Americans for Tax Reform and Empower America.

”Historically, many people have entered this country and begun restaurants or other small businesses. The restaurant industry has long and proudly provided career opportunities to immigrants. One needs only to walk down the street to see the vast array of ethnic cuisine prevalent in this country,” said Association Senior Legislative Representative Christina Howard.

”But there are many working in our industry now who are trapped in a legal maze created by unfair treatment under the law. There are several steps Congress can take to provide fairness to these immigrants. The larger hospitality industry, like other industries, faces many challenges that accompany a growing global economy. For these reasons, it is incumbent upon Congress to act now to stabilize the work force,” she added.

The restaurant industry is the nation’s largest private sector employer, providing 11 million people employment opportunities. And the restaurant industry employs 1.4 million immigrants—more than any other industry.

The three immigration reform measures backed by the Association would:

CORRECT THE “REGISTRY DATE”: S.2407 and H.R.4172 would resume a practice through which otherwise-qualified illegal aliens are able to “register” their presence in the United States after 14 years and apply for a green card. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), through inaction and regulation, has prevented many such individuals from utilizing this program. The bills would “update the registry” by allowing those residing in this country since before 1986 to apply for a green card.

RESTORE A PROVISION KNOWN AS 245(I): Since 1998, families have been separated and businesses have lost valuable employees because eligible people have had to return home—often for years—to adjust their status. H.R.1841 would allow eligible individuals to adjust their status in the United States and provide resources to reduce the INS backlogs.

EXTEND EQUAL IMMIGRATION OPPORTUNITIES: S.1592 and H.R.2772 would ensure that refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras would have the same opportunity to become permanent residents of the United States as those from Central American and the Caribbean. Recent legislation has created inequities in the system.

Source: Washington Weekly, National Restaurant Association

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