ONLY ON 13: Family fighting to stay in the U.S. after clerical mistakes

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Family could be forced to leave the country over clerical mistakes, Tom Abrahams reports. (KTRK)

Luis Amario and his family are living the American dream -- at least they were.

"We are working really hard to get it fixed," he said, sitting next to his wife and two children. "This country has opened the door for us as a family. We really appreciate that. We are proud to be here and we appreciate the community."

Amario is Venezuelan and is a bilingual education teacher at Pine Ridge Elementary. He is here on a work visa that expires the end of August.

He, his wife Zarmitma, daughter Daniela, and son Matthew want to extend their stay permanently.

But there is a problem.

Through an attorney hired by the school district, they began the process of applying for permanent employment certification. But they tell us, through no fault of their own, the attorney made repeated clerical errors on the forms. Those errors caused the forms to get kicked back and now time is running out.

They're now getting help from the district, from Congressman Brian Babin's office and from their church family at Central Baptist.

"They're doing it the right way," explained Pastor Michael Meadows. "They've done everything the right way. They've put in all the time and all the work and all the money to go through the legal immigration system the right way. They have, in the process, a very valued part of this community."

As of Wednesday afternoon, Eyewitness News has confirmed with Congressman Babin's office the proper paperwork and a letter from the congressman have made it to the Department of Labor. That's the first major hurdle in keeping the Amario's dream alive.

"I can make a difference in younger people," said Amario. "And I think is important for our community and the world."

If the permanent work certification is denied or isn't approved in time, Amario says he is exploring other temporary options. Staying in the United States illegally, however, is not one of them. He says if worse comes to worst, he will take his family back to Venezuela and work to return as soon as possible. His son, Matthew, is a United States citizen.
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