One of Illinois' biggest companies says U-S immigration policy puts it at a competitive disadvantage. As IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports, Caterpillar's involved with a Chamber of Commerce campaign seeking an overhaul of federal immigration law.
The U.S. issues a special type of temporary visa for high-skilled workers, like the engineers and scientists Caterpillar is trying to hire. But there's a limit on so-called H-1B visas -- a cap that Caterpillar attorney Mark Peters say the Fortune 500 company reached all too quickly.
"And it capped on the first day. Now we cannot recruit new H1 and B employees for over a year and a half, which in my opinion puts us at a distinct disadvantage with our foreign counterparts."
He says not only will those workers go to international competitors, Caterpillar is left with a hole in its workforce. Peters also says country-specific caps on green-cards mean Caterpillar can't hire all of the Chinese and Indian employees it wants to.
"The reality is we would love to hire all U.S. employees; we pay our foreign employees and our U.S. employees the same. We just can't do it."
Peters says there aren't enough Americans trained in science, engineering and math. While he says improving education could be a long-term solution, he says Congress should do something about immigration policy in the near-term.
Support Your Public Radio Station