Personal guest service is the lifeblood of the lodging industry; it cannot be automated and it cannot be outsourced. Hiring workers to fill critical service positions will be one of the industry's most urgent issues over the next decade. Given the significant impact immigrants have on our workforce, as they nearly make up one-third of the 8 million jobs the hotel industry supports across America, there’s no doubt that the impact of immigrants to this country is invaluable. In fact, hospitality is one of the largest employers of immigrant workers. The hotel industry is global, welcoming guests from around the world, and key to our success is our global workforce. As immigrants play such an important role in our industry, it is so important to fix our broken system and enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Our immigration system must be reformed to secure our borders and protect our economic security by creating a guest worker program that:
- Meets the increasing demand for labor,
- Identifies those immigrants already in the country and provides a method for a status adjustment after they are subjected to a rigorous screening process and fined, and
- Allows those who qualify to work in jobs for which Americans cannot be found.
In recent years, hoteliers have sought to attract and retain employees through numerous initiatives. The industry is a leader in both welfare-to-work and school-to-work efforts, and AH&LA has partnered with prominent organizations such as America's Promise, the NAACP, and Esperanza USA to promote careers in lodging.
This industry offers so many a pathway to achieve the American Dream—providing endless opportunities of upward mobility, fast-track promotions and workforce flexibility. It’s what makes our industry so unique and why so many find a lasting career. Our employees are the heart and soul of our industry, and we have the privilege of witnessing the economic and social value they provide every day. It’s imperative that policymakers see this value, too, and pursue policies that protect our country, improve legal guest worker programs, and provide a pathway to legal citizenship, particularly for children brought here by their parents, hoping for a better future.