In praise of Ayotte’s immigration decision

The senator deserves should be commended for a courageous stand

Sen. Kelly Ayotte deserves praise for her insightful and pragmatic view of our immigration challenges and having the courage to come out in support of the Gang of Eight’s proposal.

The comprehensive immigration reform bill offers some of the key elements that are critical to fixing our immigration problems, including a measured pathway to legal status for undocumented workers, a national employment verification system and improved border security.

The reform bill is not perfect, but what in life is?  I’m a believer in pursuing excellence, not perfection when making difficult decisions.  This bill is an exceptional example of compromise. It represents a giant step in the right direction for a problem that has been neglected for far too long.

The restaurant industry continues to expand faster than most industries in the U.S. in spite of the challenging economic environment since 2008. America’s 980,000 restaurants are expected to post record sales and continue to be a leading job creator in 2013, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast.  Total restaurant industry sales are anticipated to exceed $660 billion in 2013 – a 3.8 percent increase over 2012, marking the fourth consecutive year of real sales growth for the industry.

More importantly, 2013 will be the 14th straight year in which restaurant industry employment will outpace overall employment.  Restaurants will employ 13.1 million individuals next year, as the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, representing 10 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

As our, and other, labor-intensive industries grow, there will be continued pressure for a reliable and legal labor force to serve in positions that have traditionally been difficult to fill.  Our workforce, which includes a significant number of recent immigrants, is as diverse as the restaurants in our industry – an industry that provides individuals the opportunity to work their way up from a position in the dish room, to one in the boardroom.

We can’t take for granted the everyday contributions that immigrants provide to our economy.  From farm to fork, our immigrant community is an essential part of a labor niche that makes the dining experience for millions of Americans possible.

Tom Boucher is CEO/owner of Great New Hampshire Restaurants Inc., Bedford.

Categories: Opinion