Foreign teachers in Baltimore schools at risk of losing visas

Foreign teachers in Baltimore schools at risk of losing visas
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Nearly two-dozen foreign Baltimore public school teachers will be forced to leave the country if the Trump administration fails to extend their visas.

The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that about 25 teachers, many recruited from the Philippines to fill positions in the mid-2000s, are waiting for the federal government to extend their work visas.

Jeremy Grant-Skinner, the chief human capital officer with Baltimore City Public Schools, said the extensions were filed months ago. The government, though, has been slow to process the applications and has selected some cases for audit.

Grant-Skinner said it could take six to eight months before they know if the extensions are granted.

“These are long-term teachers who we value and we want to be able to keep them here,” he said. “We are at the mercy of the federal government in terms of securing the extension of their visas.”

A majority of the teachers will need to leave the country by the end of the month, the newspaper reported. One teacher’s current visa expires before the school year ends. Two are from Jamaica and the others are all Filipino.

The administration has been cracking down on work visas.

Trump signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order last April, aimed at reining in the H-1B visa program.

The program hires highly skilled foreign workers initially for three years and offers the possibility for extensions.

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Trump has argued the lottery system used to distribute H-1B visa hurts American workers and drives down wages. As a presidential candidate, he called for the program to end completely.

“They should never be used to replace Americans,” Trump said of the visas. 

The White House did not respond to The Sun’s request for comment.

“I’m sad that this administration has made this so difficult,” Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English told The Sun.

“Their attitude toward immigration is really a detriment to the country. These teachers come dedicated. They’re not one or two years and then done. They’re here and it’s just very unfortunate they have to go back," English added. 

Hundreds of Filipino teachers have come to Baltimore following a massive recruitment effort that began in 2005.

The district was struggling to find teachers for fields like math, science and special education.

Baltimore public schools still have roughly 250 foreign teachers, The Sun reported.