Friday, 22 February, 2019

India issues demarche to United States on detention of students

Indian students arrested in US The students were arrested on civil immigration charges according to a report
Leonard Rios | 03 February, 2019, 19:55

The ICE agents made the arrests on Wednesday, the same day federal indictments were unsealed that charged eight people, all of whom are either Indians or Indo-Americans, in a visa fraud scheme. The helpline numbers are: +1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 and email is: cons3.washington@mea.gov.in.

Lawyers have argued numerous students enrolled believing the university was legal.

According to the federal prosecutors' charges regarding the case, the university in Detroit's Farmington Hills was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created to expose immigration fraud.

The conspiracy came to light after the Department of Homeland Security set up a fake university in Farmington Hills to target foreign students who wanted to stay in the USA without proper authorization, according to federal indictments unsealed in Detroit on Wednesday. According to a United States daily, 8 Indian student recruiters have also been arrested for helping foreign students, mainly Indians, to stay in the U.S. without proper authorisation.

A US federal court has already charged eight Indian student recruiters- six from Detroit and one each from Florida and Virginia - in connection with this case and the Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have also issued warrants for the arrest of 600 persons.

He said that he had met India's Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla to ask for help for the students.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has issued a demarche to the American Embassy in New Delhi. The website tells affected students to contact their local office of Homeland Security Investigations, the ICE agency that did the undercover operation.

In New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "We are aware about this incident".

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The Ministry has urged the U.S side to share full details and regular s of the students with the Government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will.

It said that for those seeking legal help, guidance and assistance is being provided by the Indian mission and consulates and assistance from the Indian community has also been mobilised to provide legal support to those who seek. The MEA said, efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing.

The website of the fake university has been closed by government officials.

The indictment, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of MI, said the students knew the scheme was illegal.

The Indian embassy has also set up a 24/7 hotline for assisting the students and their families.

"Rather, their intent was to fraudulently maintain their student visa status and to obtain work authorization under the CPT (a course-related curricular training programme that allows off-campus work authorization for foreign students)".

"The authorities alleged that each of the foreign citizens who enrolled and made "tuition" payments to the university knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits, or make academic progress towards an actual degree in a particular field of study - it was a "pay-to-stay" scheme".

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