Peoria businesses sat down and talked immigration reform.
Specifically how President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies will impact their foreign-born workers. Immigration reform was a hot topic this election season, and with Trump taking office next month, businesses considered a variety of possibilities.
The panel was hosted by the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vice President of TERRA Engineering in Peoria, George Ghareeb, was in the audience. He employees 90 workers, some of them foreign, and says he’s concerned about losing H1B visas.
“Which are the visas that normally allow you to hire foreign workers if you cannot fill the position locally,” he explained.
Ghareeb points to Trump’s Attorney General Nominee, Jeff Sessions, a critic of programs that support international visas, as a potential threat.
Ghareeb also worries that many smart, foreign workers will go back to their native countries rather than contributing American businesses.
But Ghareeb also notes that things weren’t perfect under President Barack Obama.
“Even with new Obama laws it makes it really hard for us to hire someone from the outside,” Ghareeb says. “You have to have a lawyer to interpret what the laws are.”
Ghareeb says there was just a general sense of uncertainty among local businesses at the panel, many unsure about what a Trump regime will bring.
“Everyone is just a little bit skeptical,” Ghareeb said.