Marriott CEO Faces Questions Over Immigration

Long-time Proponent of Immigrant Labor Asked Why Immigrant Labor is Needed When So Many Americans are Unemployed

CEO Also Asked About Senator Ted Cruz’s Amendment to “Gang of 8” Bill that Prohibits Citizenship to Those Who Willingly Arrived Illegally Even if Amnesty is Adopted

Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual meeting of Marriott shareholders at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C., Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, asked Marriott CEO Arne M. Sorenson about the hotelier’s stance on America’s current immigration debate and why the company seeks to hire so many immigrants while America’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.

“While Sorenson avoided specifics – saying that immigration reform is a complex and often emotional policy issue – he did outline generalizations about what Marriott hopes to see from the current immigration reform efforts on Capitol Hill,” said Danhof. “Sorenson said that whether the number is 9, 11 or 13 million illegal immigrants in the country, they are here, and they are not going home. He said the federal government should provide a policy solution that would get these illegal immigrants into the system, get them green cards, get them paying taxes, and gain a status whereby Marriott can legally hire them.”

An audio recording of the exchange is available here.

Marriott has long been a proponent of immigrant labor. In 2007, Bill Marriott, Jr., then CEO, now executive chairman of Marriott, called for comprehensive immigration reform, stating, in part, “we really need to get a comprehensive immigration law that we can all abide by and operate by.” In 2010, Marriott pushed for an increase in worker visas and employment-based green cards. And recently, Bill Marriott has lauded the so-called “Gang of 8” for “championing improved access to the American Dream.”

Danhof asked Sorenson for his opinion of an amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to the so-called “Gang of 8” bill that that does not prevent a general amnesty but does prohibit those who willfully violated our immigration laws from being eligible for citizenship. This amendment strikes a middle ground by allowing illegal immigrants to stay and work in the United States and it does allow their minor children to become citizens.

“While Sorenson did not specifically endorse Senator Cruz’s proposed amendment, he did not reject it, either. In fact, his response highlighting his view of the importance getting the millions of illegal immigrants into the system and allowing them to work aligns with Cruz’s plan,” added Danhof.

“An estimated 11 million individuals are in this country illegally,” said Danhof. “And while there is a near universal sense that something must be done, the range of policy solutions is divergent. However, blanket amnesty alone is no solution.”

Danhof also asked why Marriott has long said it needs immigrant labor while millions of Americans are unemployed.

“Sorenson did not fully address the disconnect that I pointed out to him – that we have millions of Americans who could presumably fill any of Marriott’s unmet employment needs,” said Danhof. “Instead he said that in some locations only seasonal work is needed and unemployment in those locations is near zero.”

A copy of Danhof’s question at today’s shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour and President David Ridenour are Marriott shareholders. Danhof served as their proxy at today’s meeting.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than 4 percent from foundations, and less than 2 percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions to The National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.