Mississippi business and political leaders are urging Congress to reform the nation's immigration system. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
According to the Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association, the number one issue facing the industry is the quality and quantity of staff available. Director Mike Cashion says the number of Mississippians age 16 to 24, who often work in the industry, isn't growing. They need immigrant workers.
"So what we're looking for is any way that we can legally expand the employment base, so that restaurants can staff not just at an entry level staff position but also managers and owners as well," said Cashion.
But Cashion says the country's cumbersome immigration system discourages restaurants from expanding. He and State Representative Joel Bomgar of Madison, joined Mississippi Farm Bureau to support what they say is a bi-partisan, nationwide campaign called "Reason for Reform." Yesterday, business leaders in all 50 states urged Congress to streamline the immigration system. Mike McCormick with Mississippi Farm Bureau says the red tape in guest worker programs can leave crops dying on the vines.
"We went all over the state of Mississippi and talked to our farmers that are using these programs and heard horror stories about their crops rotting in the fields and not being able to get the labor force that they need to get their crops to market," said McCormick.
Representative Joel Bomgar, says not enough Mississippians have the skills to fill positions at the technology software firm he founded in Ridgeland.
"There is just no way to build a technology software company in Mississippi, without being able to augment that labor force with H1B Visas and other immigrant labor," said Bomgar.
Joe Bomgar says immigrants bring needed diversity to the state's workforce.