According to recent research conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, 31 percent of undocumented workers are employed in the service industry, making the issue of immigration reform especially important to the commercial gaming industry. In fact, a sizeable number of our industry’s hotel, restaurant and other vital workers are immigrants.
Status (as of 12/12/12)
While no comprehensive legislation to address immigration reform was actively considered during the 112th U.S. Congress, some legislative efforts related to the issue and job growth were introduced. It is likely that the 113th U.S. Congress may seek to address broader immigration reform with legislation during the 2013-14 sessions.
STEM Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 6429)
The STEM Jobs Act of 2012 would have eliminated the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which allocates slots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States – a sticking point with Democrats, who have introduced their own bill to increase visas for STEM graduates without affecting the Diversity Visa Program.
On November 30, the U.S. House approved the STEM Jobs Act by a vote of 245-139. The legislation is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate at this time as broad Democrat opposition remains. The White House also opposes the bill and would rather work on broader immigration reform.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011 (DREAM Act of 2011) authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to cancel the removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis, an alien who: (1) entered the United States on or before his or her 15th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding this Act's enactment, (2) is a person of good moral character, (3) is not inadmissible under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act, (4) has been admitted to an institution of higher education (IHE) in the United States or has earned a high school diploma or general education development certificate in the United States, and (5) was age 32 or younger on the date of this Act's enactment.
The respective bills have been referred to House and Senate Subcommittees of jurisdiction.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 (S. 1258)
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 creates a lawful prospective immigrant status for a qualifying alien present in the United States, as well as for such alien's qualifying spouse and children who may be outside the United States. The legislation also provides for status adjustment to lawful permanent residents.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
The AGA position on immigration reform mirrors that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which calls for comprehensive reform accounting for both border security and the creation of employment opportunities for the millions of immigrant workers that help our businesses succeed. Any immigration reform must achieve three goals. First, it must ensure border security. Second, it must create a temporary guest worker program that protects the wages and working conditions of both U.S.-born and immigrant workers. Third, any legislation must provide a path to permanent citizenship for undocumented workers currently working in the U.S.
Our nation’s projected job growth combined with the current aging workforce, means we will need an increasing number of immigrants to fill future jobs. Our national economy and national security will be better served with clarity in our country’s immigration laws. It is incumbent upon Congress to create laws that are easily understood, easy to comply with and ensure our industry’s continued access to the legal work force needed to sustain the economy.