The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition,
made up of various state businesses, political leaders and other
immigration rights advocates, announced Monday that it's looking to
recruit some 300 Illinois-based CEOs and small businesses to join its
push for bipartisan immigration reform.
The group's "common sense" immigration efforts come just days after national labor and business leaders reached
a wage plan for low-skilled immigrant workers that is being considered while a group of senators work out the details on how to overhaul the
country's immigration laws. Under the proposed plan, a new class of work visas issued each year would be based on data including job demand and unemployment numbers, but they would eventually be capped at 200,000 a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Rowe, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition's chairman emeritus, former chairman and CEO of Exelon Corp. and chairman of the board of trustees at the Field Museum of Natural History, wrote last month on the
coalition's website a letter supporting "prompt and comprehensive reform" of the country's immigration laws, adding that such legislation could provide more legal work opportunities for both high- and
low-skilled workers and a path to citizenship for immigrants already in
Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. CEO Douglas
Oberhelman offered more of the group's specific requests at a kickoff
event yesterday, including increasing the number of available visas and
simplifying the E-Verify system used to check immigration status of
potential employees. He also announced the group's support for awarding a
green card to those who earn advanced math and science degrees from
"They want to stay and make a real
contribution to our company and our country," Oberhelman said yesterday.
"But it's not easy. The process is tedious. Some Caterpillar employees
from China and India have been waiting more than eight years for a green
card that would give them permanent residency. These are valued
employees, and we lose them."
Former Gov. Jim Edgar, leaders from Motorola Solutions Inc., representatives from DePaul University and the University of Chicago, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, among others, are part of the group which also has the backing of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.