U.S. Congress Rep. Voices Support for Detained Indian Students in Visa ScamFebruary 13, 2019 18:30
(Image source from: Michigan Radio)
Amid the detention of 129 Indian students in the United States for enrolling themselves in a fake university, the U.S. Congress representative has voiced support for the release of the detained Indian students, many of whom are from the two Telugu states - Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
In a carefully worded letter, Elissa Slotkin, a U.S. Representative for Michigan's 8th Congressional district, said the only mistake of the students was misunderstanding a foreign work-study program.
In a letter addressed to the Indian American community in the U.S., Slotkin wrote, “It is our understanding that these students were not aware that the university in which they had enrolled was fraudulent, and their only mistake was to misunderstand a foreign work-study program in their pursuit of higher education and career ambition. Indeed, they are not being criminally charged.”
As many as 600 students have been issued warrants and 129 students detained at 30 detention centers across the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to their enrollment in the fake University of Farmington, created by the Homeland Security officials as part of a sting operation.
The fake university was set up by the officials to lure students who wanted to stay in the country after their visas had expired as part of a ‘pay-to-stay’ scheme. The website and social media pages of the University of Farmington had been elaborately set up to attract recruiters who brought in the students overstaying their visas.
Eight student recruiters were booked under criminal charges, and one has come out on bail.
The American Telangana Association (ATA) had reached out to the Slotkin to step in on behalf of the 20 students detained at two different detention centers in her state. The association has urged the politician to facilitate voluntary departure for the detained students and to ensure that their re-entry to the United States won't be barred.
Slotkin says she had spoken personally with the Indian Ambassador to work with the Consulate General in Chicago to provide adequate legal representation for the detained students.
Elissa has expressed her intention to pursue the matter after the court hearing on February 12. She also intends to write to the Department of Homeland security.