It's a shame that the hotel industry often gets sucked into the world of partisan politics. This time the issue is immigration reform and the ever-present specter of national security. Yesterday, President Bush reaffirmed his stance on immigration reform, including a provision that would allow some of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. to apply for temporary (up to six years) guest worker status. If adopted, the plan could be a boon to the hospitality industry and the many lodging propertiesÃ¢€”especially resortsÃ¢€”that are in constant need of workers to take the thousands of line-level hotel jobs that are vacant at any given time.
The bad news is that even though Bush coupled the proposal with a call for stronger measures to protect our borders from terrorists and illegal immigrants, the conservative wing of the Republican party (the people to whom the President is beholden for his job) doesn't like the idea of allowing illegals to remain in the country under any circumstance, even if they're solving a critical problem for a major industry like lodging.
My guess is that given the President's other political problems, he may need to sacrifice the guest-worker proposal in order to get action on the rest of the package. Take note of the Congressmen and governors who oppose guest workers and punish (or reward, if youÃ¢€â„¢re so inclined) them at the ballot box in the next election. Of course, how you react probably will depend on how difficult it is to find enough quality employees to staff your hotel or hotels. If youÃ¢€â„¢re not sure, call your HR and ask him or her if itÃ¢€â„¢s a problem or not.