D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine sued a man for allegedly recruiting foreigners, taking advantage of them and giving them deportation threats through his teacher exchange programs Monday.
Racine accused Earl Francisco Lopez and his companies of misleading teachers into paying exorbitant fees for J-1 visas, which allow people outside of the U.S. to “participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.”
Lopez’s companies allegedly pretended to be associated with District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and threatened teachers that they would lose their visa sponsorship and get deported if they did not sign onto contracts, Racine’s office said in a statement Monday.
Bilingual Teacher Exchange in D.C. along with other organizations, collectively known as “BTE,” recruited around 45 teachers through a State Department program since at least 2015, and several of the teachers were from Colombia, the statement said.
“DC Public Schools is aware of the lawsuit and will continue to fully support the Office of the Attorney General’s efforts to protect our teachers from predatory business practices,” DCPS told The Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday.
International Teacher Exchange Services (ITES) usually charges between $1,000 and $1,500 to sponsor J-1 visas. BTE charged between $3,700 and $13,000, and kept the remaining amount not given to ITES, the press statement said.
“The Office of the Attorney General brought this lawsuit to hold Bilingual Teacher Exchange and Mr. Lopez accountable for preying on vulnerable foreign teachers who were trying to navigate a new culture and a complex visa system,” Racine said, according to the statement. “These hardworking educators came to the District to teach D.C. students. Mr. Lopez and his companies defrauded them, provided little to no services, and instead trapped them in a cycle of debt, late fees, and threats of deportation.”
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