HB ON THE SCENE: AH&LA Meets With Congress on Travel and Immigration Reform
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 - 6:39AM W
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WASHINGTON, DC—This year’s American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Legislative Action Summit is focused on two issues: travel and immigration reform. Today, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress to discuss these issues.
Attendees will ask Congress to cosponsor the bipartisan Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2013, which would expand the Visa Waiver Program and reduce visa processing wait times in an effort to attract international visitors and support job creation. In addition, the group will be focused on stressing the importance of domestic government travel to the economy.
The AH&LA also supports a broad-based solution to immigration that secures the borders, while allowing for a temporary worker program that provides access to workers to meet the needs of the industry. This solution should also include a worker verification program that is accurate and efficient; establish an earned legalization process through which currently undocumented workers can be given the opportunity to participate in the legal economy; and retain the H-2B seasonal worker program. Throughout the course of yesterday’s panel discussions, which took place at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill here, speakers were quick to point out that it’s not a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented workers, but a path to legalization.
In his opening address, Joseph McInerney, former president/CEO of the AH&LA, reminded hoteliers that the industry has a “strong reputation we can build upon for the years to come. Remind them that the lodging industry is critical—hotels create jobs, lots of jobs.” Throughout the summit, speakers, panelists and experts all seemed reasonably optimistic on the issues, indicating that many legislators want to get to yes and find solutions to these challenges.
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For the past few years, the talk of The Lodging Conference in Phoenix had been focused on the economic recovery, solid industry projections and “cautious optimism.” With the word cautious no longer necessary, the economic outlook took a backseat this year to the seemingly unending parade of new lifestyle brands.