Did Immigrant Workers Bussed from Texas Help the DC Restaurant Industry?

By Becki Young, Co-Managing Partner

For years we’ve been hearing about a shortage of workers from our DC-area restaurant clients.  At GYH we’ve been monitoring this trend and have even published about it. But recently, our DC restaurant clients have reported a much easier time finding local staff. 

What changed? 

According to Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Managing Director and Vice President of Government Affairs of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), some local restaurant industry employers may have benefited from the more than 10,000 workers that Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott bussed to the city since April 2022.

Gov. Abbott hailed the bussing program as an attempt to raise awareness of what was going on in Texas and to prevent the state from shouldering “the burdens imposed by open-border advocates in other parts of the country.” Some immigrant advocates supported the program, at least initially, because it allowed migrants to get to bigger cities for free, quickly and safely. Others saw it as a dangerous publicity stunt.

At this point the evidence is only anecdotal but (putting the overall policy and human rights considerations aside) it seems that the bussing program may have had an ironically positive consequence that Gov. Abbott likely did not anticipate, by giving a much-needed boost to DC’s struggling restaurant industry.