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  Heads of Six Hotel Companies in the U.S. Send Letter to
President Bush Seeking Comprehensive Immigration Reform
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Current immigration system is badly broken
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WASHINGTON, May 14, 2007 - Six leaders of the nation's largest lodging companies have joined together to urge Congress and the Administration to end the impasse and take action on comprehensive immigration reform.
    
In a letter published in Roll Call and distributed to President George Bush and key members of Congress and the Administration, the leaders said, "One thing we believe in is that the current immigration system is badly broken. We believe in a balanced solution that protects our borders and recognizes the contributions of -- and the need for -- the foreign-born workers in our economy."
    
The letter was signed by Matthew J. Hart, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hilton Hotels Corporation; Stevan Porter, President, The Americas for InterContinental Hotels Group; J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.; Thomas J. Pritzker, Chairman, Global Hyatt Corporation; Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Loews Hotels; and Bruce W. Duncan, Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
    
This call to action is timed to coincide with the motion made by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to begin debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform the week of May 14th.
 
Dear Member of Congress: 

As executives of some of the nation’s largest hotel companies, we are keenly aware of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Collectively, in our 8,064 hotels in the United States, we employ over 331, 000 people—many of whom are foreign-born. 

As global leaders in an industry that was brought to its knees in the wake of September 11, 2001, we understand the critical importance of securing our borders and vigorously support such efforts. However, isolating our nation from legitimate commerce, travelers and labor would be counterproductive, for both our economy and long-term security. 

One thing we can all agree on is that the current immigration system is badly broken. We believe in a balanced solution that protects our borders and recognizes the contributions of—and the need for—the foreign-born workers in our economy.

In the void of Federal legislation, we are seeing states and local governments passing laws to regulate immigration. This developing patchwork of laws driven by emotion rather than informed debate poses significant problems for major employers like us that have properties in states and counties nationwide. In order to ensure continued economic vitality, Congress and the Administration must come together to create a balanced federal solution that secures our borders and ensures the continued growth of our economy.

Unemployment rates are at near record lows of 4.4% and Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. Even the most conservative economic forecasts predict that the lodging industry will need an additional 300,000 employees over the next several years. We are already experiencing major labor shortages and have difficulty recruiting talented and hard-working individuals. There just aren’t enough people to do the jobs we already have—let alone sustain our growth.

We provide competitive wages and benefits for our valued associates—and our companies are listed as some of the best places to work. While many of our employees may start in entry level positions, they don’t often stay there for long. We are a service industry that absolutely depends on good people— hotels cannot be automated or outsourced, nor can personal service—you need the committed employees to create the great customer service for which we are known. 

While we are encouraged by the progress being made by Congress and the Administration, we have an acute need for immigration reform that requires action now. We’d like to see a solution that:

  • Secures our borders;
  • Creates a clear, legal channel by which employers can get the seasonal and permanent immigrant labor they need, both now and in the future;
  • Provides a solution to deal with the undocumented already here. Removing undocumented workers from an economy with near full employment would be devastating and enormously counterproductive; and 
  • Establishes a fast, efficient, and accurate employment verification system so when we hire someone, we know they are authorized to work.
We could not operate our hotels without workers from other countries. It is time for Congress and the Administration to pass legislation that will achieve a true solution to our broken immigration system.

Respectfully,

J.W. Marriott, Jr.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Marriott International, Inc.

Bruce W. Duncan
Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Stevan Porter
President, The Americas for
InterContinental Hotels Group

Jonathan M. Tisch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Loews Hotels

Matthew J. Hart
President and Chief Operating Officer
Hilton Hotels Corporation

Thomas J. Pritzker
Chairman
Global Hyatt Corporation

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (NYSE: MAR) is a leading lodging company with nearly 2,900 lodging properties in the United States and 67 other countries and territories. 

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Contact:

Marriott International, Inc.
www.marriott.com
 

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Also See: With the U.S. Hotel Industry Facing Labor Shortages, Especially at the Entry Level, Bill Marriott Presses Congress for Comprehensive Immigration Reform / April 2006
Hotel Industry Leaders Urge Senate to Pass Historic Immigration Bill; Hoteliers Seek Adequate Guest Worker Program with a Fast and Reliable Employment Verification System / May 2006
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