U.S. visa restrictions affecting local schools and businesses

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 5:18 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When students walk in the front door of Sonia Sotomayor school this fall, they’ll be ready for a Spanish immersion program, they will, however, be missing some of the instructors that would normally be coming from other countries.

Sioux Falls Public School's HR director Becky Dorman was aware the pandemic and recent regulations could affect thirty teachers and assistants.

"We've utilized interns from the Amity program. The Amity program is a J1 visa sponsor."

The teachers have previously come from Spain, Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador, Chile, and Columbia. This year, this will not be coming to help students learn.

"Now, under our President's order, individuals like our Amity interns are not able to enter the United States," said Dorman.

In addition to the full immersion program at Sonia Sotomayor, there are Dual and partial programs at Edison Middle School, Rosa Parks, and Haywood elementary.

In the past, students not only learned the language by observing dialogue between their teacher and an intern but also the intern teacher's culture was part of the education plan. This year the Spanish Immersion programs continue, but look different.

"We do have some Spanish speaking, substitute teachers. We do have some staff in other capacities that are able to help us out in the classrooms," said Dorman.

While the schools are filling the void, other businesses may have no other option. Don Haggar, state director of Americans for Prosperity explains.

"When we restrict these visas, it impacts our agricultural labor force. And so those jobs go unfilled," said Haggar.

He understands why the order was made.

"The intention was to not over inflate the labor supply and make jobs available for Americans and I get that. Immigrant labor is an important part of our economy and fills positions that go unfilled without them," said Haggar.

Haggar hopes citizens will contact lawmakers to voice their opinion on visas and immigration as a whole.

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