Detained Indian Students Were Aware of Their Crime: U.S. State DeptTop Stories

February 05, 2019 10:27
Detained Indian Students Were Aware of Their Crime: U.S. State Dept

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The Indian students detained in the United States for enrolling in a fake university were aware that they were committing a crime to fraudulently remain in the U.S., the State Department has said.

The State Department's response came after India issued a demarche to the American Embassy in New Delhi on Saturday, expressing its concern over the detention of Indian students and sought prompt consular access to them.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this week arrested 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians for enrolling at the University of Farmington allegedly to remain in America.

The fake university was set up by the DHS's investigating unit in the Greater Detroit area to bust the "pay-and-stay" racket. Eight of the individuals have been arrested for running the racket who are either Indian citizen or Indian American.

"All participants in this scheme knew that the University of Farmington had no instructors or classes (neither online nor in-person) and were aware they were committing a crime in an attempt to fraudulently remain in the United States," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

The External Affairs Ministry said India continued to closely monitor the situation arising out of the mass detention.

The fake university which had no classes, a low tuition fee and gave work permits on the very first of the enrollments of the students had some 600 students, an overwhelming majority of whom are Indians.

The Indian Embassy has made an aggressive effort to reach out to the detained students and, with the help of the community leaders, is providing them with legal help.

Eminent Indian-Americans and some media outlets have also questioned the modus operandi of the U.S. government in the detention of Indians in the "pay-and-stay" university visa scam, saying "trapping of innocent students" is a "crime, illegal and immoral".

In the first reaction, days after the story broke out, the State Department had described it an unfortunate aberration in the proud history of India-U.S. educational exchanges.

Describing it an unfortunate aberration in the proud history of Indian-U.S. educational exchanges, the state department has said: "More than a million international students' study at the U.S. institutions each year, including approximately 196,000 Indian students last year.

Instances of fraud schemes are rare, unfortunate aberrations in the proud history of educational exchange between the United States and India."

The department further said the U.S. government fully supports and is committed to facilitating legitimate student travel. According to reports coming out from India, there is a panic created in the students consequently considering the option to study in other countries and not in the U.S.

"International students are a valuable asset to our universities and our economy and enrich our communities through sharing their diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences," it said, acknowledging that Indian students not only bring in about USD 6 billion per annum but also become instrumental in the creation of thousands of jobs in the U.S.

"It is unfortunate that some student recruiters and individuals seek to use the international student programme to foster illegal immigration status in the United States," the State Department said.

‘Do Not Fall into the Trap’

Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party USA, in a statement, said that it was shocked to learn that 129 students of Indian-origin were arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with about 600 students' fate in jeopardy.

"It is very unfortunate that several students are affected by this University and the majority are Telugu students. Most of these students have joined to get their work permits without knowing that this college is not accredited and became victims of this. Their dreams are shattered now," North America Telugu Association said.

The association has advised other students not to fall into the trap and instead work hard and get Optical Practical Training/Common Proficiency Test from reputed universities as per the normal guidelines.

"If some university is offering a CPT without any course, it is not true at all," it said.

In order to help the 129 Indian students in distress, the Indian embassy in the U.S. has also opened a 24/7 and as well it has appointed a nodal officer.

-Sowmya Sangam

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United States  Indian students  immigration