This year, Chipotle Mexican Grill learned firsthand the potential costs of immigration issues. Audits that started in Minnesota and spread to other markets led to the loss of about 500 workers because their documentation could not be verified, as Reuters and other news outlets reported.

Restaurants nationwide are potentially subject to Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits, but some states are taking it further to curb illegal immigration. Restaurateurs said such restrictive laws are scaring away potential employees who are here legally and eligible to work.

States including Georgia and Alabama made it harder for restaurants to hire even legal immigrants. Despite unemployment being stuck at about 9%, eateries in some areas reported having a tough time finding qualified job candidates, saying the labor shortage is hurting business.

Court rulings put certain provisions of Georgia’s law on hold, but the measure, passed in April, still requires employers to use the E-Verify system to confirm employees’ status and penalizes people who use fake identification to get a job. The Associated Press reported that farmers were finding it impossible to find American workers to do tough labor, such as picking blueberries, after Alabama passed strict immigration law. Many are worried about harvesting next year’s crops.

Other factors besides strict state laws might be at work. Mexican migration to the U.S. has dropped drastically, the Los Angeles Times reported, and so many Mexicans are leaving the U.S. that net migration is near zero. The trend is driven partly by stricter federal enforcement and additional state laws, but it comes also because jobs have dried up with the economy, experts told the Times. Mexican citizens who once crossed the border illegally for jobs at U.S. restaurants, construction sites and farms saw opportunities dry up, and experts are mixed on whether illegal immigration from Mexico will increase again when the economy gets better.

Has your restaurant been dealing with labor problems because of immigration issues? Tell us about it in the comments.

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One response to “Tougher immigration laws hit home for restaurants”

  1. Brittanicus says:

    Enforcement through Attrition is the operation of Mandatory E-Verify. Call Washington at 202-224-3121 and strongly demand that Lamar Smith’s ‘The Legal Workforce Act’ be passed now. It will save American jobs from unscrupulous business owners who are colluding with lawmakers to kill this bill. All illegal aliens must go and our laws enforced. Illegal Aliens by definition is a criminal fugitive from ICE and then to use a fraudulent document to get a job, makes it a—FELONY. Don’t hesitate; don’t wait as more reluctant lawmakers are co-sponsoring bill (H.R.2885.) The Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121 is already inundated with infuriated callers, who are justifiably contacting their representatives. Now it’s your turn? Study more about costs and the 20 million already here. Stop this travesty of the ‘Rule of Law.” NumbersUSA has all the facts and not lies from the Democrats. Join the TEA PARTY and throw out all the politicians, who are spending America into a third world country.