Immigration debate

The proposed immigration bill has touched off a major debate on guest worker programs for undocumented aliens.

It is illegal to hire anyone not authorized to work and it’s illegal to stay in the US without proper documentation. However, walling off the country will hurt the hotel industry and the economy in multiple ways –

– Technological innovation – Qualified, technologically skilled professionals have been instrumental in furthering America’s technological edge. While the debate does not concern legal immigrants, “temporary professional workers” (as legal working aliens are called) have a hard time getting permanent residency. America has more to lose by way of technological leadership if talented legal aliens are shut off.

– Service industries – Industries that depend on a supply of quality, cost-effective labor will be hit hard – In Long Island for instance, businesses complain of poor labor quality with hotels finding it particularly hard to staff properties because of the high cost of housing and lack of immigrant labor. Making it difficult to obtain work visas is also a serious disincentive for foreigners and foreign hotel companies to operate in the US. Virtually every major hotel company moves managerial staff across countries and the charged atmosphere arguably serves as a disincentive to recruiting good talent both in management and in the culinary sphere.

While there are no simple solutions, apart from hardened nativists, a majority of people in the US continue to believe that immigration benefits the country in many ways.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.