Farmers, hotels, restaurants and retailers in Texas have been suffering due to a dearth of low skilled workers and want changes to be made to federal immigration laws in order to ensure their industries will be able to get the employees that are needed to enable them to expand, according to a new business coalition.
A number of leading trade associations in the state have joined a non-partisan group, the Partnership for a New American Economy, which is trying to persuade Congress to change immigration laws in the country to give legal status to currently illegal workers. The group is also lobbying to create a guest worker program in order to be able to meet future requirements.
“It is an emotional issue, it is a politically charged issue, but we believe that if Congress would act in a reasonable and rational way, it would take away a lot of that emotion,” says the chief executive officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, Richie Jackson. “It is really time that we step back from the rhetoric and look at the substance that is being prepared.”
Jackson adds that immigrant labor is necessary to fill vacancies for entry level, low skilled jobs in hotels, construction, restaurants and on farms. He added that the level of demand is persuading many immigrant workers to illegally cross the border and steal identities in order to obtain fake documents. “The crux of the issue is what to do with the workforce that is already here,” he notes. “We would want to see, at the very least, a legal status.”