Lodging CEOs Say the Bill is Critical to the Economic
Future of the Industry
|WASHINGTON - May 25, 2006 -- The American Hotel & Lodging Association
(AH&LA) praised the U.S. Senate today for passing historic immigration
reform legislation. The bill, S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Act of 2006 by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Edward
Kennedy (D-Mass.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Lindsey
Graham (R-S.C.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) restructures the nation's immigration
laws to meet the dual goals of border and economic security.
"We thank the sponsors of this bill and the tremendous leadership of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for shepherding this crucial piece of legislation through the process," said AH&LA Executive Vice President for Public Policy Marlene Colucci. "As with any complex issue, compromise is necessary and although the bill passed by the Senate is not perfect, it does address our primary concerns. It bolsters national security and allows employers to reach across the borders when absolutely necessary to fill positions for which Americans cannot be found."
"As the President has said, we are nation of immigrants," said Colucci. "The lodging industry employs 1.8 million people, the vast majority of whom are Americans. We also provide valuable jobs to thousands of legal immigrants who have contributed greatly to the success of our dynamic industry and our society as well. Many of these workers have risen to management positions, providing a better life for themselves and their families."
Temporary guest workers are also critical to the operations of many hotels and their full-time American employees, especially during peak travel seasons, Colucci said. "The Senate bill establishes a stringent but realistic guest worker program that would allow foreign-born workers into the United States to fill jobs when U.S. workers are not available. We look forward to working with the House-Senate Conference Committee to send a bill to the President as quickly as possible."
"National security is our first concern," said Stevan Porter, president of the Americas region of InterContinental Hotels Group and chair of AH&LA's Government Affairs Committee. "However, overly strict border control measures that keep out legitimate visitors are detrimental to the U.S. travel and tourism industry. As the Senate proved today, being a welcoming nation while also protecting our borders is not only possible, it is necessary."
AH&LA Chairman Joseph R. Kane, Jr., CHA, said that rising occupancy rates and sustained economic growth in the lodging sector, combined with near full-employment, have led to a severe labor shortage. "Even the most cautious economic forecasts predict that the lodging industry will need an additional 300,000 employees over the next eight years. I applaud the Senate for passing this important bill and urge the House-Senate Conference Committee to preserve the guest worker program included in the Senate bill." Kane is group president of Cendant Hotel Group and president/CEO of Days Inns Worldwide, Inc.
"We appreciate the time and energy the President and the Senate have devoted to this complicated issue," said Matthew J. Hart, president and chief operating officer of Hilton Hotels Corporation. "A comprehensive, long-term solution is the only way to solve this critical issue."
The Senate bill also includes two provisions of great importance to the lodging industry. The bill extends access to temporary seasonal workers for an additional three years, to September 30, 2009. It also extends the deadline for implementing the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative by 17 months, to June 1, 2009.
AH&LA is a 96-year-old association of lodging properties and companies throughout the United States. Members are represented by AH&LA at the national level as well as by our partner state associations, which provide many additional cost-saving benefits. With some 10,000 members in the United States and internationally, AH&LA represents more than 1.3 million guest rooms. As the voice of the industry ensuring a positive business climate for hoteliers, AH&LA provides advocacy on Capitol Hill, education, marketing, information, and bottom-line benefits.
American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA)
|Also See:||Shrinking Labor Force is Top Challenge for Global Hospitality, Tourism & Service Industries / Jeff Coy / January 2006|
|With the U.S. Hotel Industry Facing Labor Shortages, Especially at the Entry Level, Bill Marriott Presses Congress for Comprehensive Immigration Reform / April 2006|