PEORIA, Ill. - This year's presidential election made immigration reform a hot topic. With President-Elect Donald Trump set to take office in January, many business owners are paying extra attention wondering how it could impact them.
That was top of mind Monday at a panel discussion at Peoria's Chamber of Commerce.
Many businesses hoping to find out what impact could be felt here locally.
"We've reached a boiling point and I think the president kind of expresses a lot of frustration that's going on in America." Executive Director of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois, Dave Bender said.
Immigration reform is not only a hot button issue in border states, it's also making waves locally.
"Having agriculture across the Midwest immigrants are drawn towards those areas and universities so it is not simply a border issue." President & CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Griffin, explained.
Here in Peoria, Bradley University is a prime example.
"If they're receiving an education here why kick them out at the end of that education?" Griffin said.
"We need to build upon that and try to not only educate a natural born citizen who wants to come in and may be an engineer but right now we have a steady work force that are engineers that are overseas that want to come here. With a lack of work visas it really isn't working we don't have enough people here to work." Bender explained.
Bender says ensuring a secure workforce means a brighter future for places like Caterpillar.
If they're truly going to be a global leader which we really rely upon them to be comprehensive policy has to be in place, the workforce has to be secure." Bender said.
Business leaders say they're happy to see this discussion is now on the table.
"Immigration reform is vital and crucial. It can't just be a deportation policy it has to be a comprehensive package. Obviously he made immigration reform a big issue and I think it's up to us to talk about what's important, drill down from a business perspective." Bender explained.
A representative from the US Chamber of Commerce was on hand at Monday's discussion.
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