06/20/2013 10:11 am ET Updated Aug 20, 2013

States Are Calling On Congress: Pass Immigration Reform!

A bipartisan effort is going on in Washington to try and address the pressing problem of immigration. A group of four Democrats and four Republicans in the US Senate, collectively known as the "Gang of Eight," have authored a bill to modernize our immigration laws.

In an effort to let our elected representatives in Washington know just how important the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is to our economic viability, Tennessee is holding a virtual march on Washington this Thursday, June 20.

Please go to for more information. While you're there, send a message of support this Thursday to our Senators via Facebook or Twitter. The time to pass this bipartisan legislation has never been better and we need to let Senators Alexander and Corker hear from us during this week's #iMarch #TN.

The hospitality industry is Tennessee's second-largest private-sector employer, with an extremely diverse workforce at all levels, comprised of approximately 180,000 employees-with a direct tourist spending impact of $14.1 billion dollars in Tennessee.

Our industry created over $5.2 billion dollars in worker income and paychecks and the industry collects over $1.12 billion dollars in state and local taxes.

We are glad to see our priorities being addressed in the bipartisan "Gang of Eight's" proposal, which has the right framework to tackle our three key priorities:

1) Improved border security to help prevent illegal border crossings, while encouraging legitimate travel and tourism to the United States to boost U.S. jobs.

2) At its core, immigration reform must include permanent legalization, which would offer undocumented immigrants a pathway to permanent legal work status.

3) A national employment verification system that would provide employers with certainty in regard to their legal obligations, while preempting a patchwork of state and local laws.

These serious issues have been neglected by Congress for too long, and both the well-being of our employees and the continued recovery of our industries depend on immediate action.

I'm marching today through because I want comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed this year. And I'm not alone.

Last week, the Partnership for a New American Economy released a poll showing that 91% of Tennesseans believe it is important that it pass this year.

If you're one of the 91% who believe it is time to fix our broken immigration system, please join me in #iMarch #TN this Thursday.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Partnership for a New American Economy, in conjunction with the March for Innovation, a virtual march taking place in key states across a number of social-media platforms designed to call attention to the immigration reform bill now before Congress. For more information on the march, click here.