Chipotle CEO Monty Moran talks immigration reform in the Wall Street Journal

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A year ago, news broke that home-grown burrito chain Chipotle was being scrutinized by the feds surrounding the company's hiring of illegal immigrants, and that hundreds of employees would be laid off in Minnesota as a result. A few months later, the same fate would befall Chipotle's outlets in Washington, D.C., where the government identified scores of workers without proper documentation.

Even then, as protesters lined up to berate Chipotle for what they viewed as unfair treatment of immigrants, the company was articulate about where it stood. "Let me be clear, if it were up to us, we would keep all these people," Chris Arnold, director of public relations at Chipotle, said at the time. "They're dedicated, hardworking people who have been with us for years. But under the law, we can't employ them."

CEO Monty Moran isn't satisfied with that answer anymore.

Since the company was forced to fire hundreds of workers in Minnesota, Virginia and D.C., Moran has become an advocate for immigration reform, meeting with members of Congress from Colorado, New York, Texas and California in an effort to overhaul the system.

"These guys need to know what is going on," Moran told the Wall Street Journal. "Immigration is really messed up." A strong immigrant workforce is key to the success of the rapidly growing company, he explained; Chipotle employs 30,000 people nationwide, half of whom are Latinos.

Since the immigration audits, turnover in the restaurants has climbed, and so has the amount of resources devoted to hiring, since restaurants now have to vet an average of thirty to forty applications for one position when previously managers had only looked at about ten.

Moran's message to politicians is that the company can't keep its staff full if it can't hire immigrants. So he wants an alternative solution that will allow them to work legally and permanently, rising through the ranks at Chipotle into leadership positions. Something similar to temporary work permits for workers in the agricultural sectors won't work, he told the Journal: He wants more. And he wants lawmakers to figure it out quickly, since the company added 145 restaurants to its portfolio this year, and plans to follow up with 165 new outposts in 2012.

"We've got a business to run and need great people," he said. "It's always been our job to build the business up with the foundation of the very best people we can find. Period."


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8 comments
no
no

i don't understand why all the scrutiny of Chipotle.  Pretty much walk in to any restaurant kitchen, and it will be teeming with illegals.  And in DC?  Illegals are EVERYWHERE. particularly in sanctuary counties like Montgomery.  The local Walmart?  how many work there.

So i just don't understand why Chipotle in particular seems to be getting the govt boot put to its neck, why so many others, large chains and otherwise, are getting a pass.

Scott_2
Scott_2

Chipotle had success with illegal workers and low pay because illegal workers are a 'type of'  forced labor. Illegal workers always have the threat and fear of being reported/deported and this typically leads to the work results employers like. Now Chipotle must compete on a level American playing field and they're whining about it. Pathetic, lost my respect. 

Tyler Breuer
Tyler Breuer

Laura - I appreciate you bringing this article from the WSJ to the Westword, but by adopting the term "illegal" into your own post, you only encourage the commentators above to continue to use that term to describe undocumented immigrant workers.  

DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS
DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS

If Chipolte has a annual turnover of over 125% (stated in the Wall St. Journal article) it must be doing something wrong. Either pay is too low or working conditions are so bad that only illegals would tolerate them, which is another reason to keep them out, as that encourages employers NOT to improve pay or conditions.

GFTW
GFTW

Wow, 30-40 illegals for every legal one??

Scott_2
Scott_2

Tyler you should know by now that"undocumented immigrant workers" as you call it are some of the most "documented" people in America with their fradulent documents and IDs. Illegal alien is a more accurate status as much as some don't like to hear it and it was their actions that created that status. 

DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS
DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS

No, not illegals. Chipolte is not hiring them at all anymore. What it seems to mean is 30 to 40 applicants are reviewed before Chipolte finds one it thinks is qualified for the job.

no
no

illegals are illegal.  Stop trying to spin it. I am sure you would sing a different tune if one rips off your identity.

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