Washington DC, February 8: Four members of the US Congress have written to their country’s Immigration Authorities as well as the chief of Homeland Security to ensure that the 129 Indian students who have been detained for enrolling in a fake university, are given their due rights accorded by law. The four members of congress are Thomas R Suozzi, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Brenda Lawrence and Rob Woodall.
"We urge the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure the detained students are treated properly and afforded all rights provided to them under the law, including access to an attorney and released on bond, if they are eligible," reads the letter.
The representatives further urge DHS and ICE to share complete details and regular updates regarding the Indian students with the Embassy and Consulates of India, further pushing for consular access for the detainees. Emphasising that "India is an important strategic partner and friend to the United states", the letter said "these students are a vital pillar of the people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, and they come to the US on grounds of merit" and "in the spirit of continuing cooperation on educational exchange programs which benefit both countries economically and culturally" and that they should be treated "fairly, humanely and in accordance with due process".
The Indian Embassy and Consulates in the United States were recently given access to 117 out of the 129 arrested Indian students, noting that efforts were being made to get in touch with the remaining students.
129 Indian students got caught in a fake university sting set up by special agents from the ICE to crack down on illegal immigration in the country. The students, hailing mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, were arrested on January 31 for illegally staying in the country by enrolling in the fraudulent university, named 'University of Farmington', while knowing that it was a fraudulent pay-to-stay (in the U.S.) scheme.
According to charges unsealed last week in a US court, eight individuals, who served as recruiters for the fraudulent university, have been indicted for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The US authorities also plan to deport the arrested Indian students and have placed them under "removal proceedings". (With ANI inputs)