WASHINGTON, D.C.—In the wake of the recent government shutdown, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) to reiterate the importance of immigration reform to the lodging industry and the health of the national economy and to prompt legislative action in the House of Representatives.
Recognizing that the current immigration system is broken, AH&LA encourages Congress to take steps to secure the nation’s borders while at the same time allowing the United States to remain a hospitable nation for those who travel here for business and leisure. The association emphasizes to Congress the need for legislation that:
- Establishes a process to identify, screen, fine, and place in probationary status those undocumented workers currently in the U.S.;
- Ensures that any new employment verification system is effective, efficient, and fair;
- Strengthens the H-2B temporary worker program;
- Creates a new lesser-skilled temporary worker program that allows non-agricultural employers to obtain workers when American workers are unavailable; and
- Includes the provisions of the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act to streamline visa processing and expand the number of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program.
“The passage of meaningful immigration reform is of vital importance to this nation not only for security reasons, but for economic ones,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. “The members of the Senate recognized the urgent need for repairs to our broken immigration system and worked swiftly to pass their reform measure. The letter to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers is intended to renew the call for reform in the House and move this issue back to the front burner.”
The U.S. lodging industry is a strong driver of jobs and economic growth, currently employing 1.8 million hotel property workers and paying $200.9 billion in travel-related wages and salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects lodging will create more than 141,000 new jobs by 2020, and hoteliers are concerned over continuing difficulties in finding enough U.S. workers to fill these jobs. It is anticipated the problem will become more acute as the economy recovers, despite the good wages and growth opportunity afforded by the industry.
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