AHLA initiative calls for immigration support

Hospitality is Working, an affiliate of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, has launched the Workforce & Immigration Initiative to emphasize the need for Congress to support the U.S. workforce and economy through bipartisan solutions to fix the American immigration system. 

Accompanying the launch, the Workforce & Immigration Initiative released a digital advertising campaign in Washington, D.C., and key states, as well as a new survey underscoring voters’ support for reform that prioritizes the U.S. workforce, economy and securing the border.

Staffing Shortages

According to the AHLA, nearly all hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, and hotel employment remains down more than 350,000 jobs compared to February 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including more than 105,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

“Workforce shortages are severely impacting America’s economy, notably the leisure and hospitality sector, which is facing historic worker shortfalls. This crisis has contributed to high levels of inflation and restricted economic growth. Americans everywhere are feeling the impacts of these difficulties. To address the extraordinary workforce shortages, Congress and the administration must come together and find bipartisan solutions that include incorporating more immigrants into the American economy,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, said in a statement. “The goal of the newly launched Workforce & Immigration Initiative is to highlight the historic opportunity to take action on this critical issue. Americans are demanding our that leaders in Washington put partisan politics aside and prioritize growing our economy and workforce, by developing an efficient and workable immigration system. The time to act is now.”

On behalf of the Workforce & Immigration Initiative, Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies partnered to conduct a survey of 1,014 voters nationwide from Nov. 14-21 on immigration and other key issues. 

Survey Results

Two in three voters (67 percent) overall and 69 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 64 percent of Republicans agree more that “in order to build a dependable and efficient economy, we need to fix our immigration system so that immigrants willing to contribute to our economy can do so legally” over supporting a focus on the economy without any focus paid to immigration (33 percent).

A range of proposals including legal status/citizenship are popular across party lines. Bipartisan majorities support proposals that would grant expanded citizenship opportunities or permanent legal status to immigrants living in the United States:

Two in three voters (67 percent)—78 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans—support increasing the annual number of H-2B visas. The H-2B visa program allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1-March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1-Sept. 30). 

Seven in 10 voters (71 percent)—86 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans—support creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who currently qualify for Temporary Protected Status. A similar number—69 percent, or 80 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans—support allowing all J-1 visa holders (visas that allow visitors to be sponsored by American businesses, agencies, and organizations for education) to legally work in the United States.

Voters do not think the government is taking enough action and that the immigration system is "broken" and "in crisis," according to the survey. Three in four voters (76 percent) say Congress has not done enough on immigration, and nearly nine in 10 voters (87 percent) say bipartisan efforts to achieve immigration reform are more important than sticking to their respective parties’ political agendas.

The new advertising campaign features an ad that notes contributions by immigrants “make our country and economy stronger.” The ad highlights the workforce shortage and calls on Congress and the administration to “secure our border, grow our economy and create opportunities for people to work legally in the United States” and “rebuild the American Dream.”

The Value of Messaging

However, after messaging, more voters see immigration as an asset to the American economy. To start, 48 percent of voters say immigration is good for the economy (including 64 percent of Democrats, 37 percent of independents, and 31 percent of Republicans). However, after voters learn more and hear persuasive messaging, 63 percent overall say it is good for the economy (a 15-point increase): 79 percent of Democrats (15 point increase), 54 percent of independents (17 point increase) and 46 percent of Republicans (15 point increase).

Voters support the hospitality industry advocating for bipartisan reform. After reading a pro-reform statement, 69 percent of voters overall, including 82 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 55 percent of Republicans, support the hospitality industry advocating for Congress to pass bipartisan solutions to the immigration crisis to meet their workforce needs—as do 81 percent of those persuaded to say immigration is good for the economy from neutral/negative views. In a highlighting exercise of the same text, voters are most drawn to the figures of annual gross domestic product and taxes the industry contributes to the economy, “bipartisan immigration reform,” “immigrants who meet certain requirements to legally work,” “and “fill vacancies to meet the demands.”