Caribbean Teachers Make Plea For Green Cards On Steps Of NY City Hall

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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 30, 2011: Caribbean teachers pissed off over broken promises of green cards made by New York City ten years ago, took their frustration to the steps of City Hall on Wednesday.

The teachers, flanking Caribbean American Councilmember, Jumanee Williams of Brooklyn’s 45th district, said New York City education officials need to do more to help them and their families obtain the permanent U.S. residency they were promised in 2001, when they were recruited in their Caribbean homelands.

The 388 teachers say they risk deportation if their work visas are not renewed and their spouses and adult children have been in limbo, unable to work legally.

“For over a decade, these teachers and their families have been in a legal struggle, fighting to stay in this city and build a life,” said Councilmember Williams.

Caribbean-American congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke, also recently stepped in to help Caribbean teachers in an immigration limbo in the U.S.

The congresswoman has said her office has written to the Department of Homeland Security, urging them to fast track the immigration application of several Caribbean teachers in New York City school’s system.

She added recently that the major obstacle she has learnt is the E-B3 visa classification the teachers were given when they were hurriedly hired by the New York City’s Board of Education and that each teacher’s case is different and the 1,400 are at varying degrees of residency.

Tthe United States-based Association of International Educators (AIE) and the Black Institute recently teamed up to release a full study on the case titled “Broken Promises: The Story of Caribbean International Teachers In New York City’s Public Schools.”

The teachers group says the stress of renewing temporary work visas has been a constant part of these teachers’ lives for the past decade and the financial costs have been steep since they have paid many thousands of dollars to the DOE’s designated attorneys to maintain their legal status yet many remain in legal limbo.
The AIE want the New York State Education Department to resolve all certification issues for international teachers immediately and to have all certified NYCPS teachers to receive professional EB-2 work classifications on their permanent residency petitions, rather than the less skilled EB-3 classifications the Caribbean teachers have been assigned to date.

Said Fatima Shama, who leads Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, told the Associated Press Wednesday: “We are committed to identifying and working for practical solutions that will provide permanent residency for our international teachers.”