U.S. immigration authorities arrest scores of Indians for illegal stay

Posted February 04, 2019

Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, on Sunday expressed confidence that the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will have access to all students detained by the US authorities as part of "pay-and-stay" scam by Monday.

The report states that these 8 student recruiters were arrested after the USA agencies used a fake college, the University of Farmington as part of their undercover operation to identify these recruiters, who never knew that the university was under U.S. agencies vigil and the students who were enrolled by them.

Through the demarche, the MEA underlined to the US Embassy that the students, who might have been duped into enrolling in the "university" should be treated differently from the recruiters who have duped them.

The university of Farmington was set up by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security to expose immigration fraud. Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated.

The National Human Rights Commission had even submitted a representation to the external affairs ministry, pointing out how it amounted to violation of the students' human rights.

The prosecutor maintains that the students arrested knew they were participating in the illegal operation, they call it a "pay-to-stay" scheme.

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The organisation has confirmed that 100 students from the Farmington University in MI have been arrested and warrants have been issued for another 600.

Prosecutors say those who enrolled knew that the facility would be illegal.

A 24/7 helpline has been established in the embassy in Washington for assistance and to answer queries. "Of the 130, 129 were Indian nationals", Khaalid H Walls, an ICE spokesperson, told PTI.

Attorneys have dismissed claims by U.S. prosecutors that the students were aware the University of Farmington was running an illegitimate operation, saying they legally entered the country with student visas and transferred to the varsity to work.

An official with ICE said the students involved in this case had come to the US legally to study at universities, but then transferred to the University of Farmington after they arrived in order to work, the Detroit Free Press said.

The American Telugu Association (ATA) reported that 100 students were arrested on Wednesday.

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The indictment accuses the students of enrolling only to stay in the country, not to get an education. "They promised that they were working closely with the concerned authorities and will resolve the issue in a fast and amicable manner", said TANA secretary Anjaiah Chowdary Lavu.

On Thursday, the DHS shut down a website they had been created for the University of Farmington.

According to the ICE, in 2017, as many as 2,49,763 Indian students were enrolled in the various American universities.

"So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers".

Officials from the Indian consulate in Houston have met the detained Indian students at the Montgomery Processing Centre and Prairieland Detention Centre in Texas.

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