Senator Durbin and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman talk immigration reform

By Audrey Wise

August 8, 2013 Updated Aug 8, 2013 at 8:21 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Congress is on a five week break, allowing legislators to discuss the most important issues in Washington with constituents.

Thursday morning Senator Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman touted the benefits they see in immigration reform.

"There is a direct linkage between the national debate in Washington on immigration reform and economic growth in America," said Senator Durbin.

Oberhelman said, "The Senator, as you all know, is one of eight key leaders on what is developing to be what is a very good, common sense approach which we have desperately needed for years in this country."

Senator Durbin said the bill offers a path to citizenship to the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

It takes 13 years and it's not an easy road. He said it's not a free gift, "Register, background check, learn English, pay your taxes, receive no government benefits for 10 years while you're paying taxes, no credit for social security for time that you worked before this time, none at all, so these people are starting in that position."

It also helps to keep educated workers in America, something very important for a global competitor like Caterpillar

"Better that those talented individuals be given a chance to stay and to use the skills that they've developed here and the education to really help build American companies," said Senator Durbin.

"The ability to hire the best and employ the best from anywhere in the world in our company to go compete with what are really tough manufacturing competitors we have everywhere in the world," said Oberhelman.

This bi-partisan bill passed the Senate in late June.

However, the House left Washington without action on the legislation.

Earlier this week, House Republican Aaron Schock said he supports immigration reform and a path to citizenship.

"And as I listen to Congressman Schock, I heard him tick off the key elements of the Senate bill and I'm encouraged by that," said Senator Durbin.

Now, Senator Durbin is asking the House leadership for a vote on the bill, "We're a nation of immigrants and the people who come here as immigrants have made America what it is today. We've got to renew that spirit and this immigration reform bill does it."

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