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Log In / Register | May 22, 2018

Trump, Immigrants and Restaurants

There is an interesting debate in the foodservice industry on the impact to restaurants by the Administration's policies on immigration and undocumented workers. Will it be a boon or detriment for restaurant owners who are already hard pressed to find workers?

QSR has an informative piece that highlights some of the issues for restaurateurs. For one, there is concern over higher food costs.

The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that 50–70 percent of farm laborers are unauthorized. Losing access to undocumented workers would cause agricultural output to fall $30–$60 billion. Domestic fruit production could decline as much as 61 percent, and livestock production could be down by 27 percent. All told, the federation estimates that an enforcement-only approach to immigration will cause food prices to rise as much as 6 percent across the board.

There is also concern with how it might affect restaurateurs' ability to find workers. There is hope that there isn't just enforcement to send undocumented immigrants back to their home country. That would shrink the labor force. The hope is that there would also be comprehensive immigration reform that allows more immigrants legally into the workforce. QSR magazine adds this insight:

…restaurateurs hope immigration reform will help relieve the pent-up demand for guest worker programs, Meade [Shannon Meade, director of labor and workforce policy for the National Restaurant Association] says. While immigrants make up a sizable share of restaurant employees, the NRA has no estimates on how many undocumented people work in the industry. "The restaurant industry is growing. As the industry grows, there's going to be a need for workers. For a lot of them, the temporary worker issue is a big issue," Meade says. "You need people to fill these roles. Every year, you see these temporary worker visa programs fill up quickly ... And it's not just restaurants. It's hotel, lodging, and other hospitality employers. There is a real need for this year-round temporary worker program."

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