WEAR ABC 3 - Search Results
The "Summer Work Travel Program"
Immigration Reform legislation could have an unexpected impact on our local tourist industry.
The "Summer Work Travel Program" brings thousands of international student workers to the gulf coast every year.
Measures intended to protect those workers may bring the program to an end.
Laura Hussey "As Destin has grown, so has its dependence on international student workers. There are 100 here at Big Kahuna's this summer."
They come to see new places, work on their english, and to earn dollars that go a long way at home.
"Can I see your ID please"
Hristina Nedelkovska is spending her 4th summer working at Big Kahunas.
Hristina Nedels "It's a long process actually. First, it costs a lot of money, so only the program costs like a thousand dollars, just to pay for the program, to get the sponsor to sponsor the visa."
Sponsors are middlemen who handle the paperwork and market the students to local employers.
Some, like the one Big Kahuna's uses, are reputable.
But others take advantage everything from overcrowded living conditions to human trafficking.
The Immigration Reform Bill would ban companies from charging the students for visas, placement, and other services.
That would leave businesses to cover the cost.
Hristina "Companies already have to do a lot for us, they have to do all the paperwork, they already have lots to do for us, and then to pay for us. I don't think that's going to happen."
General Manager Bob Cordier agrees.
He says the change would create a serious labor shortage.
Bob Cordier/GM, Big Kahuna's "We go to all the high schools and recruit, we do the best job we can of hiring locals in, but we need these internationals to make it. I wouldn't be able to make it, we'll just close up and everybody you see wouldn't be in this park if this goes through like that."
Laura Hussey 'With Immigration Reform is being hotly debated, there's no telling when this issue will be decided.