PEORIA - “We need to fix the system so we can get more VISAs, more green cards and we can compete in attracting and retaining the best talent in the world,” said Mark Peters of Caterpillar.
Local business leaders say they’re losing highly-skilled immigrants to other countries. They say that’s partly because current immigration policies don’t always allow foreign graduates of U.S. Colleges green cards after graduation.
“They are highly skilled people that we need.”
Caterpillar leaders say the need those workers for their science, math and technology-heavy positions. And they say immigration reform could help their bottom line.
“It allows us to not only do that but increase the number of facilities and employees in the United States as opposed to overseas,” continued Peters.
Panelists agree that the need for immigration reform is especially important to Peoria. Because the community is seeing a growing number of immigrants and wide range of businesses looking for workers.
“When you think of the diversity of our economy with construction, manufacturing, health care and agriculture, it's going to hit a community like Peoria in a unique way,” said President of the Peoria Area Chamber Jeff Griffin.
A bill that will head to the house this summer could make it easier for those graduates to get green cards, but that doesn’t mean local workers will lose out on jobs.
“The Senate bill requires employers who are looking to hire foreign born folks to look domestically first.”