Teacher faces deportation, says district didn't help with visa

Teacher faces deportation, says district didn't help with visa »Play Video
Mario Vilela says the Beaverton School District wanted him to keep teaching but didn't do anything to help renew his visa.

BEAVERTON, Ore. - A teacher in the Beaverton School District says he'll be deported because the district didn't help him stay.

Mario Vilela's work visa expired just four days ago, and he says the district knew it was coming for two years.

Vilela says Beaverton Schools wanted him to keep teaching but just didn't do anything to help renew his work visa. He could find out in days, or weeks, whether he'll have to go back to Peru.

"Teaching is my passion. It's my life," Vilela says. "I feel my dream is over. It's done. I don't have any dreams now."

Instead, he's fighting to stay in America.

He moved here from Peru in 2006, studied at Portland State University and then worked at Estacada Web Academy. It still says so on his visa, which is the problem.

For the past two years he's actually taught Spanish at Whitford Middle School in Beaverton.

"I was trusting them," he says about the district. "All this time, I trusted them."

Vilela says he thought the district was updating his visa. He says he asked the district about it in 2010. This June he found out that the district hadn't done anything.

In an email, a district spokeswoman wrote KATU: "The District cannot legally employ a non-citizen who does not hold a valid visa." The email also says it was Vilela's duty to apply for an updated work visa, not the district's responsibility.

"The day of my termination was probably the most horrible day of my life," Vilela says. "I was doing my bus duty. The principal came and said this is your last day."

Vilela did send an email to Beaverton schools two years ago about his visa, but it turns out he emailed an employee who wasn't working there anymore. So nobody ever got the message.

On Monday, Vilela and his lawyer will argue their case to the school board executive committee.