Why The Restaurant and Hospitality Industry Needs Migrant Workers ASAP

Photo: AFP

One of the central problems at the heart of the migrant crisis is where these people can find work after they reach the United States. There may be one industry that could immediately fulfill the employment needs for many of them. According to Andrew Rigie, the executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, restaurant owners and hospitality services are clamoring for workers. Speaking in 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program, Rigie says the federal government needs to remove the stumbling blocks that are prolonging the employment problem.

“They’ve been waiting, and every day I’m being asked, ‘When are they going to expedite work authorization?’, Rigie told Riedel and former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, sitting in for Berman. “I have jobs in my restaurant, I need people to work, these people want to work, but I can’t hire them legally. So, the federal government needs to do something. If they don’t, they’re just really exacerbating this crisis that already exists.”

Rigie says the requests to set up this potential labor pool, however, have fallen on mostly deaf ears so far in Washington. “We have, for months and months now, been calling on the federal government. We’ve been partnering with, you know, in New York, our governor, our mayor, our elected officials, other business groups, labor groups, immigrant advocate groups. There’s a huge diverse coalition of people who often don’t agree on all different issues; they agree on this. Unfortunately, it’s the federal government that needs to act.”

Rigie also debunked the theory that migrants are taking jobs away from Americans. “They’re not displacing American jobs. The fact is, if restaurants could hire enough Americans, there wouldn’t be all these jobs. My friend pulled up some statistics yesterday for me. She found over 10,000 jobs available in restaurants that are available online… There’s (sic) jobs; they’re not displacing folks that are Americans that are here. They’re basically filling jobs at small businesses that are owned by Americans.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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