Students detention: India serves demarche to US

Students detention: India serves demarche to US

 Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of the MEA. (Image courtesy ANI/Twitter)

India has served a demarche to America, conveying its concern over the dignity of the 129 Indian students, who were detained across the United States for allegedly flouting immigration rules.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued the demarche to the Embassy of United States in New Delhi. “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,” Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of the MEA, said.

The sleuths of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) earlier this week arrested eight “recruiters” – all Indian citizens based in Michigan, Florida and the Virginia States of America – for allegedly running a racket for visa frauds. They were indicted for facilitating hundreds of foreign nationals to illegally remain and work in the US by enrolling them into a private varsity – the University of Farmington – at Detroit in Michigan. The US ICE officials also “administratively arrested” 130 foreign nationals, who were enrolled at the University of Farmington, and 129 of them were identified as Indians. Some of the detained students were purportedly made to put on tracker devices on their ankles so that US ICE officials could monitor their movement.

“These individuals (including the 129 Indian students) have been placed in removal proceedings, and the ICE will seek to maintain them in its custody pending the outcome of those proceedings,” Khaalid Walls, spokesperson of the US ICE, said in a statement.

New Delhi on Saturday underlined in its demarche to Washington that the students, who might have been duped into enrolling in the ‘university’ should be treated differently from the “recruiters” who had duped them.

“We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the Government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will,” Kumar said in New Delhi.

India is particularly concerned over reports of some of the detained students being made to put on tracker devices.

The officials of the Embassy of India in Washington D C and the Consulates General of India in other cities across the United States have visited several detention centres throughout America to extend consular assistance to detained students. “So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing,” the MEA spokesperson said in New Delhi.

“Our Mission and Consulates have been in touch with the representatives of the Indian community and their associations to gather more information about detainees,” he added.

A 24/7 helpline has been established in Embassy of India in Washington DC for assistance or queries related to the detention of Indian students. “For those seeking legal help, guidance and assistance is being provided by our Mission and Consulates. Assistance from the Indian community has also been mobilized to provide legal support to those who seek,” said Kumar.

The University of Farmington was in fact a fictitious non-existent varsity set up by the US ICE and HSI sleuths to catch the “recruiters”, who assisted foreign citizen “students” in fraudulently obtaining immigration documents from the school and facilitated the creation of false student records, including transcripts, for the purpose of deceiving immigration authorities.