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India has expressed its concern over students being radio-tagged because their university in California had been shut down on allegations of "visa fraud," but today, the American Embassy in New Delhi justified the tagging.
"Use of ankle monitors is widespread across the United States and standard procedure for a variety of investigations, and does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity. It allows for freedom of movement and is a positive alternative to confinement during a pending investigation," said an official statement from the Embassy.
95 per cent of the 1500 students at Tri-Valley University in California are reportedly from India, most of them from Andhra Pradesh. The college was shut down by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for operating as a cover for a large immigration racket.
Students were attending classes online. Many had never visited the campus and were living in different states where they were also working illegally. However, Tri-Valley is listed as an accredited university on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System of the Department of Homeland Security.
"Visa fraud is not a victimless crime, and fraud agents and fake document vendors target some of the most vulnerable and impoverished members of Indian society...victims of fraud do have access to a variety of federal and state resources in the United States - at minimum, each U.S. state has victims' assistance units to aid victims of crime," said the embassy.
The US states that students who want to continue college in America have some options. The Embassy states, "A legitimate student who is a fraud victim should have little trouble re-applying and enrolling in a different, fully-accredited educational organization. If fraud victims choose to return to India first and apply for a new student visa, they will be treated the same as any other applicant."
Taking strong exception to US authorities’ radio-tagging scores of Indian students duped by a "sham" university in California, India today described it as an "inhuman act" and demanded severe action against those responsible.
“We demand that... the US government initiate severe action against those officials responsible for this inhuman act.Indian students are not criminals. The radio collars should be immediately removed,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters here. The students, mostly from Andhra, are facing the prospect of deportation as US authorities last week shut down the Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, a major suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, on charges of a massive immigration fraud.
The university is said to have 1,555 students, and as many as 95 per cent of these students are Indian nationals. Only about 140 visas were issues directly to Indian students for studying at this university. However, many students it seems had transferred themselves to this university from other universities in the US. This increased the number of students registered at this university.
"The Ministry will extend all help to the students. The parents need not worry since the matter has been taken up with appropriate authorities," Krishna said. The government would also provide suitable assistance to the affected students if they wished to return home, he said.
Following a raid at the university last week, US federal authorities swooped down on its students for questioning and interrogation.Immigration attorneys and Indian-American community leaders, who have been helping these students, said that scores of them had been detained and released on bond and many of them installed with Intensive Supervision Appearance Programme or radio tags.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Washington has asked the Obama Administration to ensure that none of the Indian students affected by the immigration scam is victimised. The embassy and its consulates in New York and San Francisco have taken up the matter with US authorities.
The students are frantically knocking at the doors of colleges begging for admission to save their academic careers and avoid deportation.
Naresh Kadyan of OIPA in India - PFA Haryana taken up this matter with the White House, Consulate General of India, San Francisco, US Embassy in New Delhi.
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