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Texas Business Groups Oppose Path To Citizenship, Support Work Program For Immigrants

A range of business associations in Texas came together today in Austin, hoping to catch the attention of Texas lawmakers in Washington, D.C., about the topic of immigration reform.

The group, which doesn't support amnesty or a pathway to citizenship, said they are running out of their unskilled labor force.

Some of Texas’ top business groups -- ranging from the Texas Restaurant Association to the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association -- have joined a national non-partisan effort called the Partnership for a New Economy, a group aimed at streamlining the country’s immigration system.

"We like to come together to work collectively to see if we can encourage Congress to affect reform this Congress and not wait until after the new Congress is seated in 2015,” said Richie Jackson, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.

Jackson said Congress needs to provide some form of legal status for undocumented persons and that this unique labor force is vital to the Texas economy.

“If we can’t staff a restaurant with those essential workers that we need to perform low skilled work, like bussers, like dishwashers, then we can’t build new restaurants,"Jackson said. "Then if we don’t build new restaurants we don’t employ architects, we don’t have a construction project.”

The group is against amnesty and a pathway to citizenship but are asking Congress to create a work program. 

Jackson said as law enforcement has tightened down on immigration violations it has been more and more difficult to find workers. The group is urging Congress not to avoid the subject of immigration during an election year.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.