Dozens of DISD's Bilingual Teachers Are Facing Deportation, and the System Won't Budge

CraigWatkinsJohnNeelyBryan.jpg
Dallas County District Attorney's Office
DA Craig Watkins is not facing deportation, but he is in a classroom much like DISD's H1-B holders teach in.
Garland ISD's foreign teachers aren't in danger of being sent back to their native countries because the human resources director might have been taking all-expense paid trips to the Philippines, or pocketing fees he wasn't supposed to be charging in the first place, or illegally funneling business to his step-kids, although all those things did happen. They're in danger of being sent back because their H1-B visas are set to expire and the U.S. Department of Labor keeps denying their appeals for permanent residency.

This isn't just a Garland issue. It's an issue for every school district that recruits bilingual teachers from abroad. Like Dallas ISD.

DISD employs several hundred teachers on H1-B visas. The district can't promise the teachers it recruits that they'll be allowed to stay in the U.S. beyond six years -- the H1-B is a nonimmigrant visa -- but it can help them apply for permanent residency.

This system "has worked well for a long time, and we've had many teachers go through it for many years," says DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander.

About two years ago, though, something changed, and the DOL began rejecting teachers' applications for labor certification, a key step toward obtaining a green card. According to the district, the approval rate dropped to around 20 percent.

The district has challenged the rejections -- it has filed 210 appeals since 2012 -- but has had no luck. An immigration attorney we spoke with suggested the district's having a tough time convincing the federal administrative law judges who hear the cases that they can't find qualified bilingual Americans (i.e. those with a bachelor's degree and a willingness to complete a teacher-certification program).

George Rangel, executive vice president at Alliance-AFT, has been working with some of the DISD teachers whose H1-B visas are set to expire and says the district is to blame for some of the problems. The office overseeing the applications has poor oversight and is in constant state of flux, he says, with a near constant turnover in leadership.

This leads to a lot of avoidable mistakes -- typos and clerical errors that cause many applications to automatically be rejected. Rangel says it also doesn't help that DISD funnels these requests through one law firm, Ramirez & Associates.

"The outcome is very poor, and the outcome should be a lot better, and the outcome would be a lot better if the district allowed the employees to seek their own counsel," Rangel says.

Teachers were particularly upset in November when they received a letter, embedded below, informing them that the district was discontinuing the appeals process for some teachers.

As the situation persists, Dallas ISD is prepared to resubmit a 4th application for Labor Certification if needed. We honestly hope the Department of Labor reconsiders the prior denials and approves the new applications; our children are benefiting on a daily basis from your expertise and rich cultural background. The [Human Capital Management] Department has tried all possible avenues to maintain your employment in our schools.

This is the last time that an ALC and H1B extension will be submitted on your behalf. In the meantime, you should report to work as long as your current H1B visa is active or there is a pending extention approval by DHS for your H-1B status.

Dahlander says the district's announcement that it would stop filing appeals is "something that was resolved a couple of days ago."

"We're going to stand by every one of these teachers," he says.

He estimates that DISD has about 70 employees whose H1-B visas are set to expire at the end of the school year. Rangel put the figure at just south of 100. Dahlander promised to get back with the exact number.

That's just a stopgap, however. DISD says on its website that it doesn't plan to sponsor new H1-B visas in the 2014-15 school year, meaning the district will have to find bilingual teachers elsewhere. Dahlander says the district may rely more heavily on J-1 or "Exchange Visitor Program" visas, which offers a shorter stay without the hope of a green card, and has an ongoing recruitment effort in Puerto Rico, whose residents are already U.S. citizens.

"Part of what we need to do too is talk with the Department of Labor and explain to them our situation," Dahlander says. "Ultimately ... they're here because we asked them to be here, they're here because they speak Spanish and they can communicate with students in their native language."

Losing those teachers would be an acute but surmountable pain for DISD. Longer-term, though, might difficulties with the H1-B program make it harder to find enough bilingual teachers?

"We hope not," Dahlander says.

DISD H1B Last Appeal Letter

Correction: This post originally stated DISD was recruiting teachers from Puerto Rico under the H1-B program. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and thus don't need visas to teach in DISD.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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29 comments
raengpy
raengpy

I read all your postings.  Yes, there are many out of work graduates, but are you sure they are bilinguals?  Are you sure they are speaking the target language or they are second, or third or fourth generation and they only have the Hispanic (or any other foreign minority) lastname but they do not speak the target language?  Every case is different.  yes, there is some corruption in some cases.  The problem is that immigration law for H1B workers only allows the employer and/or  its legal representant speak to DOL (Labor Department) and to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service).  The foreign employee falls victim of other District employees because they have power over the lives of the inmigrant.  I do not need to tell you how immigrants fall victims by lawyers.  One paper not sent on time by your employer can cost a family its dream.  In our case the district solved their problem by laying off HR employees: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/24/5590540/twin-rivers.html unfortunately that does not help the immigrant in any way.  It will however help our district hire someone qualify to be head of HR.    

Why do you judge so harsh for foreigners having the same dreams you have?  We want our children to go to great universities, some or our children are American Born just like you.  We want to visit beautiful Museums.  We want to read books in amazing libraries.  We want to walk out the door and know we will not be kidnapped or assaulted over a pair of tennis shoes.  We want to be able to work and support our children, our American Born children just like you.  Immigration law needs to be changed.  It needs to let us immigrant tell our stories to the authorities.  The teachers from Garland, Dallas and my sister here in California are very brave to tell their stories.  They are even more brave to live day by day while their future are held in other people's hands.  You should be thankful that foreign teachers come to teach your children.  I know I am thankful that American teachers went to my country to teach me English.  Don't hate, don't judge without knowing.  It only makes you look as a racist.  Please, understand these teachers did everything in their hands to do things right.  None of these teachers knew they were going to fall victims.  We foreigners believe Americans are honest, have freedom of speech and are welcoming.  Please, don't attack.  We have not come here to be your victims too.  Understand it is your laws that allow us to dream to be Americans.  Understand that sometimes it is your fellow citizens that abuse their power and have us in what it is called "Contemporary slavery".  They withhold our documents, underpay us, they don't give us our medical, dental and vision benefits that they promised DOL and USCIS they would give us.   http://www.dol.gov/whd/FLSAEmployeeCard/H1BEnglish.pdf    Unfortunately, this card is not included in our H1B contracts.  Unfortunately, after we foreigners are hired by their employers DOL does not hand out this card to the workers, They only talk to the employer and they too believe the employer is doing the right thing.  Only when the H1B holder is brave enough to speak up is that you get to hear our struggle.  

roo_ster
roo_ster

We have plenty of out of work graduates in the USA.  Send the H1-Bubbas home.

Americano
Americano

H1B's are a privilege, not a right.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

"The [Human Capital Management] Department..."  Human Capital is a little bit too close to 'slavery', don't you think?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

Contrary to what the author claimed, this is NOT a problem with  "every school that recruits...". 

In truth, every single one of these H1-B immigrants paid a bribe to a Republican public official to get here.  That's a very big deal.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The wave of bi-lingual teachers indicates a far greater problem.

The need for them.

They represent the tip of the iceberg.  

I suspect the number of Undocumented Democrats is FAR larger than federal estimates.

WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

Stop using bi-lingual teachers and start teaching English. Problem solved.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Asshole bureaucrats. No tolerance policies, and no one with enough brains to exercise a little discretion. Same in the schools. Sounds like chikkens comin home....

Amedican
Amedican

@Americano Sure. Good luck educating the hispanic kids with DACA illegal immigrants and Puerto Ricans!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

Again - Read twice, post once.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@bvckvs are you, by any chance, a product of DISD????

(sorry sir that was just too easy)


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs Evidence? citation?  on-going investigation?  Or just more of your inane BS?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

Funny how these horrific scandals you reference never, ever gain any traction. With your decades-long track record, one can only wonder why anyone would question your assertions.

Apparently, the entire state of Texas, including the media, has be co-opted by Republicans!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

They're all hiding in North Carolina.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ozonelarryb

Asshole libertarians - demanding that we tolerate government employees bribing public officials.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ChrisYu @bvckvs As I too-often have to tell my students - you don't need to apologize for asking questions (even the easy ones).

I'm a product of GISD, and a producer at Dallas ISD (there is no such thing as DISD anymore).

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @bvckvs

It's been reported since day 1 that the immigrants had to pay Dr. Reeve's HR guy for their jobs.  That's bribery.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@PlanoDave @bvckvs

It's all in the article.  Dr.Reeves's HR guy illegally demanded payments from the H1-B immigrants.  To any rational person, that's bribery.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

...government employees bribing public officials.

IOW, masturbribing.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @bvckvs

Leos (the HR guy) did indeed accept bribes.  Not only that, but he also forced the immigrants to pay money to his family's real estate business and law firm.

That's why the FBI is involved.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1Dr. Reeves and his HR guy are in Garland ISD, not DISD, I believe.  The article is about the Federal government not renewing H-1B visas for teachers, a problem for EVERY school district that recruits foreign teachers.  The focus of the article is the presentation of the problem in DISD (neither Dr. Reeves nor his HR guy accepted any money to secure H-1B visas for DISD teachers).

Your inability to defend and back up your wild, baseless claims renders null any effort you exert toward making a valid point.  Your inability to focus anything other than Republican Libertarians (two different things by the way, try getting yourself some of that education you're always talking about) points to an unhealthy obsession at best, mental instability being more likely.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  For a person who fancies himself as intelligent, you are very loose and imprecise with your words.

I would not argue with you if you said that the man received inappropriate payments.  That seems to be the case here.

The man does not issue H1-B visas, nor can he influence the H1-B visa process.  Therefore, the inappropriate payments did not constitute a bribe.

 

Just to keep things interesting, if you are so positive you are correct, why don't you accuse the man, by name, of receiving bribes and sign it with your own, real, name.  See how quickly you wind up with a slander lawsuit on your hands.

Come on, Beavis.  Nut up and show us how confident you are of this accusation. 

Either that or shut the fuck up.

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