Survey: Immigration reform needed to ease labor crisis

AHLA formed special task force to advocate in Congress for legislation

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Immigration reform
American Hotel & Lodging Association affiliate Hospitality is Working created the Workforce and Immigration Initiative to advocate for federal bipartisan immigration reform that can ease the current labor shortage.

A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION to the federal immigration issue is needed to reduce the still ongoing labor shortage for hotels, according to a survey from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. To accomplish that, AHLA affiliate Hospitality is Working created the Workforce and Immigration Initiative that includes a targeted advertising campaign promoting immigration reform and border security.

U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics put hotel employment down by more than 350,000 jobs compared to February 2020, AHLA said in a statement. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including more than 105,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

“Workforce shortages are severely impacting America’s economy, notably the leisure and hospitality sector, which is facing historic worker shortfalls. This crisis has contributed to high levels of inflation and restricted economic growth. Americans everywhere are feeling the impacts of these difficulties. To address the extraordinary workforce shortages, Congress and the administration must come together and find bipartisan solutions that include incorporating more immigrants into the American economy,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “The goal of the newly launched Workforce and Immigration Initiative is to highlight the historic opportunity to take action on this critical issue. Americans are demanding our that leaders in Washington put partisan politics aside and prioritize growing our economy and workforce, by developing an efficient and workable immigration system.  The time to act is now.”

Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 1,014 voters nationwide from Nov. 14 to 21 on immigration and other issues and found that 67 percent of respondents believe immigration reform that allows more immigrants to work legally is needed to improve the U.S. economy. That includes 69 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 64 percent of Republicans.

The survey found bipartisan agreement on several proposals to be included in reform. Adding more annual H-2B visas found approval among 67percent of respondents. That included78 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans. Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security planned to make available more than 64,000 additional H-2B visas for fiscal year 2023 on top of the usual 66,000.

Also, 71 percent support creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who currently qualify for Temporary Protected Status. The political split on that is 86 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.

Either way, most respondents agree that the current immigration system Is in need of reform. About 76 percent say Congress has not done enough on the issue and 87 percent say bipartisan efforts to achieve immigration reform are more important than sticking to their respective parties’ political agendas.

AHLA’s Workforce and Immigration Initiative also will include a digital advertising campaign in the District of Columbia and key states. The ad focuses on the workforce shortage and calls on Congress and the administration to “secure our border, grow our economy and create opportunities for people to work legally in the United States” and “rebuild the American Dream.”