Lobbyists for Restaurant Chains Grease Wheels for Immigration Bill
by Matthew Boyle 4 Nov 2013, 9:48 AM PDT
Fast food chains and other big restaurant lobbyists are turning their attention to efforts to try to grant amnesty to the 11 million illegal aliens in the country, Breitbart News has learned.
In a public statement released post-government shutdown on Oct. 23, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) wrote that it thinks Congress should focus on immigration reform efforts before the end of the year.
“Now that Congress can refocus after the showdown over the budget and debt ceiling, we are hearing calls from both sides of the aisle to go back to immigration reform,” EWIC wrote. “The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) is looking forward to continuing to work with the House of Representatives as it deliberates the important issue of immigration reform.”
Among other groups, the EWIC represents the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR). According to the group’s website, its board includes a who’s who of fast food restaurant executives. For instance, NCCR’s chairman is Chip Kunde of Darden Restaurants--which owns brands like the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, the Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Eddie V’s, and Yard House. Other members include:
Vice Chairman: Mary Schnell of Wendy’s
Treasurer: Cicely Simpson of Dunkin’ Donuts
Secretary Lynn Liddle of Domino’s Pizza
Past Chairman: Mike Starnes of Denny’s
Board members: Donald Balfour of Waffle House, Steve Hilton of McDonald’s, Craig Prusher of Church’s Chicken, James Richardson of White Castle, Patrick Sheehy from Cracker Barrel, Mark Simpson of Texas Roadhouse, Dan Colegrove of DineEquity, Inc., which owns IHOP and Applebee’s, and Joe Taylor of Brinker International, Inc., which owns Chili’s and Maggiano’s brands
Chairman Emeritus: Steve Brigandi of Jack in the Box
The EWIC argued that despite unprecedentedly high unemployment rates, the industries it represents somehow need more workers. According to the September report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in America stands a 7.2 percent and has not dropped below 7 percent since President Barack Obama took office.
“There is currently no effective process by which lesser skilled essential workers can immigrate legally other than a guest worker in a seasonal or temporary period position,” EWIC wrote in its statement. “Our American-born workforce will increase only 1% over the next 10 years. The restaurant industry alone projects a need for 15% more workers. There are simply not enough American-born workers to fill the jobs we expect to be created by a vibrant economy in the coming years.”
EWIC argued that American workers cannot always cut it in the fields this group of lobbyists represents, writing that its clients need “a new essential temporary worker program to identify qualified immigrant workers when domestic labor is unavailable.” The industry association called for a “workable and fair” E-Verify system, without giving specifications; “legal immigration reforms for employment-based immigrants to deal with unrealistic quotas and processes”; and “a mechanism for unauthorized immigrants to earn legal status under strict conditions and after complying with strict criteria.”
The group listed five different immigration bills currently weaving their way through the House of Representatives, each of which presumably would be used by House GOP leadership in efforts to combine the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in a conference committee if one of them or any group of them passed the House. “Although we recognize that these bills may be modified when they get to the floor, it is still significant to have so many bills in process,” EWIC wrote.
“We are particularly encouraged to hear that a new lesser-skilled temporary worker program is being drafted by Members that will allow the economy to get the workers needed from abroad when domestic labor is unavailable," the statement continued. "We understand that this new temporary worker program will include visa numbers that reflect the economic needs of U.S. job creators and will be open to all industries. We encourage all House Members to support this policy initiative.”
House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has publicly stated he wants a conference committee with the Senate bill. "A lot of people are saying, just pass the Senate bill," Ryan said in July. "That's not what the House is going to do. I think we can make it better.”
Other industry groups the EWIC represents include:
American Health Care Association
American Hotel & Lodging Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association
American Meat Institute
American Nursery & Landscape Association American Staffing Association
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated General Contractors of America
Federation of Employers & Workers of America
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Independent Electrical Contractors International Franchise Association
National Apartment Association
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Manufacturers National Club Association
National Multi Housing Council
National Retail Federation
National Roofing Contractors Association Professional Landcare Network
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Small Business Workforce Alliance
EWIC is hardly the only group representing fast food restaurants pushing for amnesty. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has participated in the campaign to lobby the House of Representatives as well. In July, after the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill passed that chamber, Gang of Eight members Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) met with NRA lobbyists to discuss pressuring the House to push for amnesty.
“With the fate of immigration reform in the hands of the House of Representatives, the National Restaurant Association took part in a meeting with senators who authored the Senate’s immigration reform bill to discuss strategies for moving immigration reform legislation forward,” the group noted on its website at the time. It also noted that tech lobbyists from Google and Facebook also attended the briefing.
“The overall message of the meeting was that the business community, including restaurant operators, needs to be vigilant in urging representatives to act on a comprehensive reform package,” the NRA added. “During the Senate debate, restaurateurs across the country contacted their senators to encourage them to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Restaurateurs in several states took part in media events to call attention to the importance of immigration reform to the U.S. economy."
"The NRA will continue its discussions with key members of Congress in an effort to secure its three priorities in immigration reform: a clear path to citizenship for undocumented workers, national use of the E-Verify employment verification system, and increased border security that does not impede legal travel and tourism,” the group stated.
The Hill has named the NRA’s Scott DeFife as one of the “top lobbyists” in Washington, D.C., an honor the outfit brags about on its website. The NRA’s president and CEO Dawn Sweeney noted in a statement that DeFife earned the lobbyist award for pushing on issues like healthcare and immigration. In addition to lobbying for amnesty, DeFife helped get big businesses an Obamacare delay by getting the Obama administration to push off the employer mandate while ordinary Americans continue to suffer from the law’s individual mandate.
“The NRA, under DeFife’s leadership, has played a significant role in encouraging the Obama Administration to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer-mandate penalties and some reporting requirements until 2015,” the NRA wrote on its website. “It also has been vocal about immigration reform, making it a top priority for the restaurant industry and playing a key role in moving reform forward. Creating a clear path to legalization for undocumented workers, national use of the E-Verify employment verification system, and increased border security that does not impede legal travel and tourism are among the objectives DeFife and the Association are currently working on with members of Congress as well as the White House.”