Garland teachers facing deportation speak out; district being in - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Garland teachers facing deportation speak out; district being investigated

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The Garland School District is under federal investigation for its handling of some teachers.

At issue is a program designed to bring foreign teachers into the district for hard-to-fill positions.

Garland ISD seems to have a very high number of teachers who are non-citizens living and working in the area on visas.

That number is 260, or about 8 percent of all the district's teachers.

From what FOX 4 has been able to determine, at least 23 are now in danger of being deported after an investigation found they were innocent victims, and have done nothing wrong.

"We haven't done anything wrong," said Garland ISD teacher Elizabeth Nino de Rivera. "We were just following the rules."

The teachers are from Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.

Language teachers were brought to Garland, they say, with a promise the district would help them get a green card and permanent residency.

"They have abided by the book; they have followed the rules," said Garland ISD teacher Francisco Javier Marcano. "They have paid their taxes."

The teachers are caught up in an investigation that's found they were victimized, and yet, they're facing deportation.

The administrator who handled Garland's H-1B visa program, a teacher and an associate superintendent were placed on leave earlier this month, sparking a protest at last week's school board meeting.

The moves resulted from an investigation that GISD has now turned over to Homeland Security.

Harry Jones is the lawyer the school district hired to conduct the investigation, and he says he found irregularities, including the improper payment of fees by the international teachers to a previous law firm.

"The District and some of its employee are victims of those irregularities," Jones said to FOX 4."It looks like somebody was getting the fees that should not have been. That's what we're investigating."

The teachers have emails confirming the district is offering to reimburse them the fees they paid, but, "They told me, 'We are not extending your visa,'" said Garland ISD teacher Bernanardo Montes-Rodrigues. "'We are not fulfilling your process. You're done. Thank you. Bye, bye.'"

Last week, Superintendent Bob Morrison told FOX 4, "Every one of our teachers that are here on visas are highly qualified, certified teachers. They are going a great job in the classroom. We're here to support them through this process."

In a statement Monday, Morrison wrote the district is "saddened" "for some teachers...having begun the process of getting permanent residency through prior counsel," but "[GISD] is no longer able to continue the process due to the limits of existing U.S. Immigration law."

"After following everything in the right way, it's just unfair that just for some other people's mistakes, we have to pay the consequences," said Garland ISD teacher Alfonso Casares Tafur.

All the teachers FOX 4 spoke to have been working for Garland for six or seven years.

One was told he's out at the end of the school year.

The others say they have been told they'll get a one year extension.

Many others apparently have gained permanent status and are not in danger of being deported, but those numbers aren't clear.

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