A Timely Initiative: AHLA to Work With Congress to Drive Bipartisan Workforce and Immigration Solutions

Americans hurt when the economy can’t grow. And right now, businesses, communities, and families stand by the wayside awaiting real, impactful change while our economy suffers, and inflation rises. We at AHLA—along with most Americans—see an opportunity to grow the U.S. economy by addressing the labor shortage and expanding workforce opportunities for immigrants. There are more than 105,000 hotel jobs currently open across the United States and more than 1.6 million jobs waiting to be filled in the leisure and hospitality sector more broadly.

These workforce woes are an ongoing repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic and a need that continues to be left unmet. And unfortunately, while we know that workers are the backbone of the hotel and lodging industry, an impactful change is needed after decades of inaction in Washington.

We look forward to working with the new Congress to urge bipartisan action to fix our damaged and inefficient immigration system. That’s why we are working to highlight a commonsense approach to addressing these challenges through the recent launch of the Workforce and Immigration Initiative, a project of the AHLA’s Hospitality is Working campaign. The initiative’s goal is to emphasize the economic and workforce imperative for Congress and the Administration to expand opportunities for immigrants to live and work in the United States legally. Toward that end, the Workforce and Immigration Initiative encourages lawmakers to prioritize solutions that grow our economy and workforce and develop a fair and efficient immigration system.

The immigration system has not been meaningfully updated in nearly three decades, and the hotel and lodging industry is among many industries paying the price.


Americans agree that this effort is needed. The initiative is supported by results from a national survey conducted by both Republican and Democratic pollsters on immigration and other key issues facing our nation’s economy and workforce. The survey found that two in three voters (67 percent) on both sides of the aisle believe that to build a dependable and efficient economy, we need to fix our immigration system so that immigrants willing to contribute to our economy can do so. A bipartisan majority of voters also support proposals that would allow legal status opportunities to immigrants living in the United States.

The immigration system has not been meaningfully updated in nearly three decades, and the hotel and lodging industry is among many industries paying the price. The majority—87 percent—of hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, and hotel employment is down significantly compared to pre-pandemic levels. As of September 2022, there were 10.1 million job openings in the United States, but only 5.8 million unemployed workers to fill them. Even if the unemployment rate reached zero, we would still need more workers. Meanwhile, millions of immigrants are ready, willing, and able to contribute but are unable to do so.

Americans are in support of bipartisan immigration solutions to bolster our workforce and are united in the industry charge for change. As a new Congress begins and lawmakers set their priorities, we encourage other industry leaders to call on our elected officials to put addressing our workforce and economic challenges through bipartisan immigration solutions at the top of their to-do lists.

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Chirag Shah is senior vice president, federal affairs & policy counsel, American Hotel & Lodging Association.