Immigration: McDonald's, Coke, Tyson CEOs Urge Congress to Act

Business leaders from McDonald's, Coke and Tysons were among the executives calling Tuesday for congressional action on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A group of business leaders, including the CEOs of McDonald's and Coca-Cola, sent an open letter to Congress Tuesday urging lawmakers to take action to overhaul the nation's immigration system.  

The letter, signed by executives from large hotel and restaurant chains, a senior living firm and a roofing company, among others, makes the case for legal status for lower-skilled immigrants doing work that fewer Americans are willing to tackle.  

"In 1950, more than half of America's workers were high school  dropouts willing to do physically demanding, low-skilled work. Today, the figure is less than 5 percent. But our businesses still need less-skilled workers," the letter says. But there is "virtually no legal way for less-skilled foreigners without family  in the U.S. to enter the country and work in year-round jobs." The executives acknowledge the need for improved border security and for verification of legal status for employees, but they ask Congress to move quickly to approve a temporary visa program for non-seasonal workers.  

"Our broken immigration system is not a problem that can be put off," they write. The letter is signed by: — Nelson R. Braddy Jr., King of Texas Roofing Company LP  

— Stephen P. Joyce, Choice Hotels International — Andrew F. Puzder, CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc. — Garen Cox, Medicalodges Inc. — Muhtar Kent, The Coca-Cola Co. — John Rowe, Exelon — Don Feltman, Artis Senior Living — Dave MacLennan, Cargill — Donnie Smith, Tyson Foods Don Thompson, McDonald's Corp.  

— Paul Whetsell, Loews Hotels & Resorts The Senate approved a comprehensive bipartisan immigration overhaul last year, but House GOP leaders have shown little appetite for taking up the issue, especially ahead of the fall elections. House Speaker John A. Boehner has said the House would tackle an overhaul piecemeal, with the priority on border security, if President Barack Obama would demonstrate to Congress that the administration intends to enforce immigration law.     

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