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Government & Politics

Portman Pushes to Expand Worker Visas, Condemns Immigration Authorities Separating Families

Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio
Portman says more visas are needed to supply enough workers.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman says he’s been pushing the Trump administration to issue more temporary work visas to fill jobs in Ohio. He also says he opposes immigration agents separating parents from their young children.

Last week, immigration officials raided a Northeast Ohio greenhouse and rounded up more than 100 employees on suspicion that they’re here illegally. Portman notes that the Trump administration has cut back on the number of temporary work visas, leaving employers struggling to find enough workers here legally.

“You don’t want people to use an illegal labor force. You want them to stick within the legal program. It should be expanded. I’ve written to both the secretary of homeland security and secretary of labor to try to get the H-2B issue resolved and to be sure the legal workforce is there. “

Portman says his office has not been contacted by advocates for the workers caught up in the sweep, some of whom had children in daycare. But "we want to be sure that the law is properly carried out and I don’t think that includes families being separated with the exception of cases where there is an additional serious crime."

Ohio’s other senator, Sherrod Brown, called the separations “morally reprehensible.”

Otto Warmbier, Trump and North Korea
The parents of Otto Warmbier, the college student from Cincinnati who died after being released from a North Korean prison last year, are thanking President Trump for saying their son did not die in vain.

Ohio U.S. Sen Rob Portman, who helped negotiateWarmbier’s release, says he believes the president was referring to the shift in talks from the diplomatic corps to the North Korean security forces when he said Warmbier’s death led to breakthroughs in the Korean talks.  

Portman on Warmbier talks

“That’s what caused the breakthrough of us finding better to at least finding out what really happened to him and getting him home. It was too late and the result was tragic, but it was better to at least know what the situation was in my view and maybe the view of the family.”

Portman says he also hopes the president meant that military exercises with South Korea have been delayed, not cancelled, pending the outcome of further talks with North Korea about its nuclear capability.