Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Talks Immigration Reform While Chipotle’s Staffing Gets More Federal Scrutiny

Immigration fuels the American workforce and the political dialogue. It’s also a major headache for Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has been juggling a three-month federal investigation into its hiring practices.

The government expanded its investigation in late April when it requested work authorization documents for all of Chipotle’s employees since 2007, plus employee lists and other related forms.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency began investigating Chipotle three years ago, alleging that the Denver chain employed undocumented workers in some markets. The ICE investigation led to Chipotle terminating about 450 illegal workers in Minnesota. Until now, the investigations had been concentrated in just a few regions, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

After the initial ICE audits, Chipotle installed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify program to avoid future problems.

Chipotle owns and operates all of its 1,458 U.S. restaurants, so it’s ultimately responsible for all hiring. The investigations could disrupt Chipotle’s restaurant operations if the company has to terminate a large number of employees in a short period again.

Immigration reform was a hot topic last month at the NRA’s 2013 Public Affairs Conference in Washington. Nearly 600 operators visited Capitol Hill and met with legislators and their staff to encourage support for the newly introduced bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” includes a pathway for undocumented workers and their families to gain legal status through a multi-step process, a national employment verification system—known as E-Verify—to provide employers with certainty regarding their legal obligations and avoid confusion with state and local laws and improved border security to prevent illegal border crossings.

The NRA has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform that contains all three elements; its labor and workforce team is looking at the details of the new Senate bill.