Immigration

That big immigration bill working its way through the Senate would let in lots more highly skilled workers on temporary visas. But there's a catch.

The bill says all employers who want to hire workers on these H-1B visas:

... would be required to advertise on an Internet website maintained by the Department of Labor and offer the job to any U.S. worker who applies and is equally or better qualified than the immigrants ... sought...

There was a time when Jim DeMint was committed to helping Sen. Marco Rubio achieve his goals.

Not anymore.

At least not when it comes to remaking the nation's immigration laws.

DeMint is president of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, which on Monday released a report contending that an immigration overhaul would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion over 13 years in direct and indirect spending like welfare and public schools.

The immigration overhaul bill before the Senate would provide, among other things, more visas for migrant farm workers and high-tech workers, and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

One thing it would not provide is help for same-sex couples in which one partner is an American and one foreign-born. For heterosexual couples, a foreign-born spouse automatically qualifies for a green card and many of the benefits of citizenship. Not so with gay and lesbian couples.

The department of Homeland Security is changing the way border agents process those people entering the country on student visas.

"Effective immediately," the AP reports, agents will have to "verify that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa."

The AP adds:

Some employers around the nation have been using E-Verify to check the immigration status of employees for years. Operated by the Department of Homeland Security, the online system is designed to make it harder to hire unauthorized workers — and harder for those workers to find jobs.

While participation in the program has been voluntary since 1996, the immigration bill now in the Senate would make E-Verify mandatory.

The Salinas Valley in Northern California grows about 80 percent of the country's lettuce, and it takes a lot of people to pick and pack it. In a field owned by Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a dozen lechugueros, or lettuce pickers, are bent at the waist, cutting heads of iceberg lettuce. They work frantically to stay in front of a line of 12 more packers, who seal them with tape and toss them onto a conveyor belt.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

(We updated the top of this post with a recap at 11:45 a.m. ET.)

Joking that a reporter's question Tuesday about whether he has "any juice" left to get things done in Washington made it sound like "I should just pack up and go home," President Obama paraphrased Mark Twain:

"Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated," the president said, as he predicted that an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws will be among the things that get accomplished in his second term.

Nathan Heffel / KUNC

Governor Hickenlooper signed the Colorado ASSET bill into law Monday, surrounded by students and civic and government leaders.

In the current debate over revamping the nation's immigration laws, there may be no elected official with more on the line than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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