The plight of 129 Indian students in the US who face deportation after they were caught allegedly enrolling themselves at a fake university in Farmington Hills, Michigan, may test India-US ties, but it has once again brought to the spotlight the scam that was Trump University — founded by the country's president Donald Trump. The likely deportation also comes at a time when Trump is facing criticism over building a wall against illegal Mexican migration.
Students of the now defunct Trump University, which was open from 2005 to 2010, had filed a lawsuit in 2013 alleging the institute used false advertising and high-pressure tactics to sell them expensive seminars that would be mentored by real estate experts. This led to loss of thousands of dollars in tuition. A "one-year apprenticeship" cost $1,495, a "membership" over $10,000 and "Gold Elite" classes for $35,000. Trump eventually faced two lawsuits and ended up paying $25 million to aggrieved students.
The US government now claims to have exposed a "pay to stay" scheme wherein students, including many Indians, take admission in fake universities deliberately to falsely maintain their student visa status and remain in the country. The likely deportation of students to India will have devastating consequences since they will also be blacklisted while applying to varsities in the future. Pupils will need a couple of years before they are able to apply for another visa and as reported by News18 and the popping-up of the Farmington University in their database will be a major red flag.
The fake University of Farmington was run as a sting operation by the US homeland security since 2015 to try and catch people who had initially travelled to the US on student visas but wanted to stay on in the country. But Indian authorities have now questioned the modus operandi of the US government. While the US agency said the students were aware of committing a crime to fraudulently remain in the country, Indian authorities are saying that the students could have been tricked into the scheme.
While Trump could escape by laying a "fine" to aggrieved students of his sham university, his administration has increasingly clamped down on undocumented migrants and visa overstayers. These Indian students stand to lose their careers because of tough enforcement tactics by US immigration authorities in the recent years. Immigration agents had earlier set up the fake University of Northern New Jersey in 2016 following which a total of 21 people, mostly from China and India, were arrested, reported BBC.
California-based immigration attorney Anu Peshawaria said that Department of Homeland Security knowingly allowed the fake university to be set up, misleading students sitting hundreds of miles away in another country, reported News18. "What is surprising is that the university was registered with the education board that authorises the issuance of I-20s to students, which in turn is approved by the Department of Homeland Security," she was quoted saying. Peshawaria also stated how it was "worse" that these students, based on their approved I-20s even got driver licenses from the US Department of Motor Vehicles, adding a stamp of authenticity to the university's credentials.
Updated Date: Feb 06, 2019 19:46:13 IST