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Legal Immigrants Work; Does the System?

The janitors, restaurant workers, and other low-wage immigrants who've been demonstrating lately have almost no legal way to be in the United States.

Instead, nearly all the permanent work visas issued each year are for highly skilled workers like computer programmers, university professors and nurses. But the system is overloaded and slow.

Businesses say they need more such workers, and warn that America is in danger of losing its competitive edge.

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Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.