What is in this article?:
- Senators offer framework for immigration reform
- Garnering industry support
The reform would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States.
Foodservice association executives voiced support Monday for a plan crafted by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators seeking to revamp the nation’s immigration laws.
Eight senators from both sides of the aisle introduced a blueprint for comprehensive reform that, among other things, would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States and a more efficient employment verification program.
President Barack Obama also has promised to make immigration reform an important priority during his second term and is expected to address the issue Tuesday.
Many restaurant operators have long supported immigration reform, citing numerous obstacles stemming from the current patchwork quilt of state and local laws, and the industry’s growing need for workers. The foodservice industry is expected to employ more than 13 million workers in 2013. Previous estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the number of immigrants — legal and illegal — who are employed in foodservice positions at about 1.4 million.
However, proponents maintain, comprehensive reform must include a path to legalization for undocumented individuals as well as the creation of an effective employment verification system.
The group of senators who introduced the plan are Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. The agreement sets four key objectives that must be met:
• Developing a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the United States that is conditional upon securing the country’s borders and improved tracking of individuals here on visas legally. To qualify, undocumented immigrants would have to register with the government, undergo a criminal background check, pay any previous taxes and learn English.
• Allowing businesses to hire lower-skilled workers in a timely manner when it can be proved that Americans were given the first opportunity but were unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs.
• Creating an effective employment verification system that would prevent identity theft and curtail the hiring of illegal workers. The industry maintains that the current E-Verify system is flawed.
• Reforming the legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help strengthen the economy. This would include awarding green cards to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university.