I recently stayed at our Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I got a departure card from Ana Ruiz. Ana is a senior housekeeper who works on the upper floors of the hotel. She's been with our company for 35 years. She started out making beds, and she's still doing it, but she now supervises others and teaches them how to clean a room right.
Ana's done very well in our company. She has made enough money to send her three children to college, and her children have done extremely well. Her daughter works at another hotel company as one of the senior financial executives. She has two sons working for Marriott, one as a senior sales executive at the Wardman Park hotel here in Washington, and the other one works in our Fort Lauderdale Renaissance Hotel. So her family has done well because she's done well. She's been a great contributor all these years.
But, she comes from south of the border. At Marriott we firmly believe that the diversity of our workforce makes us great because it's a reflection of our ever-diversifying global customer base. We value our associates - it doesn't really matter where they're born. We pay a competitive wage and we offer good benefits and we've always played by the rules. And yet we really can't find enough people to work in many of our hotels.
Employment levels in America are at an all-time high and the labor shortage in the hospitality and hotel industry is very critical. Even the most cautious economic forecasts state that our industry will need an estimated 300,000 additional workers in the next eight years. We try awful hard to make sure the workers we hire have the proper documents, but with forgeries or sharing of papers you just can't be 100 percent sure.
That's why we need a sensible and comprehensive approach to immigration reform. It will balance our nation's security needs and our economic wellbeing. It must recognize the contributions of and the need for millions of immigrants in our country. After all, aren't we all immigrants?
At Marriott, we'd like to see a solution that secures the border, of course, and creates a clear, legal channel by which employers can get the seasonal and permanent labor they need, both now and in the future. We want a solution that provides, outside of deportation or amnesty, a deal with undocumented workers already here. Removing 12 million undocumented workers from our economy with near full employment would be an absolute disaster for us. We'd like to see a fast, efficient and accurate employment verification system so when we hire someone, we know they are legal.
Like most employers, we at Marriott value our immigrant workforce and we couldn't survive without them. And most immigrants that have come here illegally have done so, not because they have negative intentions, but because the current system just doesn't work. They came here for opportunity, not to do us harm. And opportunity is the backbone of who we are as a company and who we all are as Americans.
That's how we'll keep Marriott on the move.