Washington, D.C. – November 21, 2014 – Following President Barack Obama’s address this evening announcing an Executive Order to expand and extend programs for selected groups of undocumented immigrants, the American Hotel and Lodging Association called on the President, Congress and other stakeholders to work together towards comprehensive immigration reform.
“The President and Congress have a unique opportunity to reform and enhance the current immigration system and provide the hotel industry and many other sectors a powerful tool to establish certainty, grow jobs and continue to build our economy. Our nation is desperate for a modern, effective immigration system that reflects the needs of today’s marketplace. Providing employers an efficient system to verify workers, enhancing national security, and creating a process to address those undocumented workers already in the country are just a few of the reforms that would enable hotels to solidify their business models, better understand their current needs and plan for the future,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
“The hotel industry welcomed Senate passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act largely because it was a bipartisan, comprehensive approach for fixing our immigration system. And while today’s action by the President seeks to address the critical issue of immigration, we strongly urge President Obama and Congress to work closely together with invested stakeholders and industry leaders to find common-ground solutions that lead to wide-ranging, permanent reforms. By doing so, workers will be better positioned to seek employment in the hotel industry, which provides incredible opportunities for career development and upward mobility. In addition, investors, developers and hotel employers will have the certainty they need to successfully create good jobs, with benefits that so many people need,” Lugar said.
In June 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744), which included key provisions sought and supported by AH&LA and the lodging industry, including:
- Establishing a process to identify, screen, fine, and place in probationary status those undocumented workers currently in the country;
- Providing a starting point in the creation of an electronic employment verification system that is effective, efficient and fair;
- Renewal of the H-2B returning worker exemption and a statutory wage methodology for the program;
- Inclusion of the provisions of the Jobs Originated by Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, which expands the Visa Waiver Program, establishes a pilot program for the use of secure videoconferencing for visa processing, and reduces wait times for visa processing. Implementation of these measures will grow U.S. exports, create additional American jobs, and generate increased tax revenue.
- Creating a new lesser-skilled temporary worker program (W visa), which will allow the economy to obtain workers when American workers are unavailable.