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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2005
    North Carolina

    Expert predicts crackdown on immigration could hurt restaura

    Colin Guy
    Midland Reporter-Telegram

    By Colin Guy Staff Writer

    Congress is likely to act soon on immigration and border security issues, and the decision could have a significant impact on the restaurant industry, Richie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association told members of the Permian Basin Restaurant Association during their monthly meeting.

    Jackson said the issue of immigration is gaining more traction with politicians in Washington. It is important to keep in mind the importance of keeping a secure border, he said, but measures that hold employers accountable for undocumented workers would harm the restaurant industry, as well as many other industries.

    Jackson said a crackdown on restaurants that hire workers who "may not have the documentation necessary to work in this country" could make it difficult to fill several essential positions in the restaurant industry. This could make it difficult for restaurants to operate, he said, and potentially reduce the likelihood of a restaurant opening another branch.

    "If the restaurant can't operate, you won't have a real estate deal to build the next restaurant," Jackson said. "You won't have the construction company building it, you won't have the purchases and grocery orders that go out every week. All of that is dependent on the ability to fill those essential positions."

    Jackson said Congress is clearly going to deal with border security issues in the near future, and there's a question as to whether they'll deal with employer sanctions and possibly some kind of guest worker program. Jackson said it is important to address border security, but there's also the question of what will happen to the undocumented workers already in the country.

    "Congress won't grant amnesty," he said. "But you've got to deal with the 10 to 12 million people here, it's a fact of life."

    Historically, he said, we have ignored the issue, granted amnesty to illegal aliens, and then continued to ignore the issue. Jackson said he would like to see the issue dealt with comprehensively, and that he would favor a guest worker program of some kind. A guest worker program would not only benefit the restaurant industry, he said, but many other industries as well.

    Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, along with other legislative leaders, is working on a solution to the immigration situation that would include guest worker provisions, Jackson said.

    A bill drafted by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., called the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Act, would establish a new visa category that would allow aliens to work for two years, after which they would be required to return home for one year. Aliens would be permitted to participate up to three times, for a total of six years of employment in the United States. The bill would include the creation of a Temporary Worker Task Force that would prepare reports on the effect of the temporary worker program on wages and employment of U.S. workers, which would provide an idea of how many of these visas should be issued. Illegal aliens already in the United States would be allowed to leave the country and re-enter legally, after undergoing background checks and having biometric data recorded for future identification purposes.

    "Beyond the notion of returning the rule of law to the border, the single most important aspect of this bill is that it does not reward those who have broken the law, and does not constitute amnesty," Kyl said in a prepared statement. "As a nation, we have made both of those mistakes and learned from them - they are the reason we now have an undocumented population as high as 15 million."

    Jackson also told members of the PBRA that restaurant owners need to be mindful of the efforts the state legislature is making to develop a school finance bill, and how various proposals to pay for Texas' education system could impact the taxes paid by restaurants. He said members of the restaurant industry need to be wary of a suggestion by some lawmakers that a state payroll tax be implemented to help finance schools.

    "We're a very labor intensive industry," Jackson said. "When you start talking about payroll taxes, you get our attention."

    Jackson said there have also been attempts to raise the taxes restaurants pay on alcohol, but five recent votes held on the subject have each failed. He said that in Texas, restaurants represent 11 percent of alcohol sales but pay 71 percent of the taxes on alcohol and an increase in the amount they pay would not be appropriate

    Jackson also addressed the need to raise more money for the Texas Restaurant Association Political Action Committee. He said they probably spend around $300,000 each election cycle. Jackson said he would like to see this amount increase to about $500,000.

    Jackson said the restaurant industry is very strong at the moment. He said people often used to reserve eating meals at restaurants for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries, but lately there have been more people eating out casually. Jerry Morales, president of the Permian Basin Restaurant Association, indicated that the restaurant industry has been doing well in Midland, as well.

    "The Permian Basin is definitely growing in restaurants," Morales said. "The restaurant industry is doing good."

    However, Jackson also warned increasing gasoline prices could stifle growth in the industry as people begin spending more at the pump, and less on casual dining. In the short term, he said, there have not been any signs of families cutting back on restaurant meals, but as energy prices continue to rise there will probably be some adjustments.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member dman1200's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    South Carolina
    Jackson said the issue of immigration is gaining more traction with politicians in Washington. It is important to keep in mind the importance of keeping a secure border, he said, but measures that hold employers accountable for undocumented workers would harm the restaurant industry, as well as many other industries.
    So what? Who cares? Keeping our country safe and secure is alot more important than the bottom line for a few greedy, corrupt, business owners.
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