FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2020

PRESS CONTACT: Alia El-Assar | aelassar@americanbic.biz

Directly-Impacted Restaurant Owners Call for Immediate Federal Relief for Small Businesses & Workers Harmed in Coronavirus Pandemic & a Halt to Immigration Enforcement Activities

As the White House and Congress enters the third phase of negotiations over a trillion dollar economic stimulus package, directly-impacted restaurateurs represented by the American Business Immigration Coalition are calling on our elected officials to prioritize small businesses and their employees in any economic relief package, and implement a moratorium on immigration enforcement while we work to contain the virus and protect our communities.

“With each day that passes, the situation for small businesses and workers becomes more dire, especially for those of us working in the food industry. In our industry, people live day to day and rely on each paycheck to provide for their families. One missed paycheck frequently means that they cannot afford to pay their rent and bills that month,” said Pilar Guzmán, CEO of Half Moon Empanadas and ABIC Member. “I urge Congress to pass measures that don’t rely on refunds or credits as economic relief for businesses like mine, where most of our locations are closed to protect public health and our revenue is no longer sufficient. We need immediate help filling these gaps to cover payroll to protect our businesses, workers and community before it is too late,” Guzmán emphasized.

Jim Baron, CEO of Blue Mesa Grill and TNT/Tacos & Tequila and ABIC Member, also highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, “While we understand the necessity to close bars and restaurants, offering to-go and delivery services will provide us with about 25% of normal sales–not enough to cover our rent, pay our vendors, and compensate our employees, who are like family. Like most times of crisis and change, it is small business owners and low-income workers, the life-blood of the economy, who are left to shoulder the problem on their own. Without concrete help, businesses like mine, which opened its first location 32 years ago, will have difficulty re-opening, and hundreds of workers will be left without a way to provide for their families. The only remedy is for the federal or state government to provide direct funds to restaurants, workers, and other affected businesses immediately with very lenient payback terms. Everything else is just talk.”

Today, Senators Marco Rubio (FL-R) and Susan Collins (R-ME) unveiled the Restoring Economic Security, Confidence and User Endurance (RESCUE) Businesses Act of 2020, a $300 billion emergency economic relief plan to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic make payroll and cover expenses.

“We are thankful that our elected officials in Congress are working to pass the most comprehensive relief package for the small businesses and workers taking huge economic hits because of the coronavirus outbreak. We need action now. Workers are already being laid off and businesses are having to close their doors permanently–meaning that there will be no job to return to after the virus is contained.” said Sam Sanchez, Founder & Owner of Moe’s Cantina and ABIC Member. “We also call for a halt to cruel and unnecessary immigration enforcement measures during this public health and economic crisis. Our immigrant employees do some of the most difficult, dirty and dangerous work. We must ensure that no one in our communities is afraid to seek medical help,” continued Sanchez.

ABIC and our members urge our leaders at the federal, state and local levels to prioritize small businesses and their workers and take action immediately to protect our public health, economy, and overall well-being.

“The federal government needs to step up and support the restaurant and hospitality industry in 2020 like they did in 2008. These industries are the backbone of our economy, and are also bearing the brunt of this crisis as cities and states implement policies necessary to safeguard the health of our population. We need Congress to act quickly and find real, bipartisan solutions before our hospitality industry collapses, and takes the economy and our communities down with it,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association and ABIC Member.

The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes commonsense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides American companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens. For more information please visit https://abic.us.