Indian students in US arrested in ICE fake university sting: Community leaders plan legal pushback 'this week'

Community organisations led by the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) which are actively involved in getting legal help for the 129 Indians arrested in the ICE fake university sting operation confirmed to Firstpost that a lawsuit against the US government is very much on the cards “as early as this week” as they consider legal pushback to removal proceedings initiated against the arrested Indians.

Nikhila Natarajan February 05, 2019 07:00:52 IST
Indian students in US arrested in ICE fake university sting: Community leaders plan legal pushback 'this week'

New York: Community organisations led by the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) actively involved in getting legal help for the 129 Indians arrested in the ICE fake university sting operation confirmed to Firstpost that a lawsuit against US law enforcement is very much on the cards “as early as this week” as they consider legal pushback to removal proceedings initiated against the arrested Indians.

Eight lynchpins of a student visa scam and at least 130 students have been arrested in sweeping raids by US law enforcement officers this week. Of these, 129 are Indians. The total number affected is a number closer to 600. At a high level, the allegation is that a group of less than 10 “foreign citizens” ensnared at least “600 other foreign citizens” to illegally remain, re-enter and work in the United States and actively recruited them to enroll in a fraudulent school as part of a pay and stay scheme and because of this, the “alliance” profited in excess of a quarter million dollars.

"All participants in the scheme knew that the school had no instructors or actual classes. The defendants intended to help shield and hide their customers/"students" from United States immigration authorities for money and collectively profited in excess of a quarter of a million dollars as a result of their scheme", says Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Indian students in US arrested in ICE fake university sting Community leaders plan legal pushback this week

Representative image. Reuters

“I agree 90 per cent of the people, if not more, knew the details of the academic offering but they did not know it was illegal”, Jayashekhar Talluri of Telugu Association of North America (TANA) told Firstpost over the phone.

"When the US government has given the permissions and approval, there is a difference in backdrop. We understand that while in Rome do as the Romans do but these are people from India who had no idea that they were being duped because the cover was so well planned. It was meant to entrap”, Talluri said.

Talluri says most of the students are from modest income backgrounds, relatively new to America and its educational system, “saved every penny they could” to pay for the fake Farmington University course they took up and were under the impression that if they are being given a “Day One CPT”, they are good to go.

“Most of them are well qualified so they are trying to do what works for them. I’m not saying it’s right but they did not know it is illegal. If they knew it was illegal, they would not have done this”, Talluri said.

“At least 600 kids have borrowed money, not everybody is rich. They came here with a lot of hopes. Having a black mark on their immigration is not good. Somebody has to take a proactive step and we are doing that.”

TANA says the students in custody are in good physical condition when they checked in last. "Our first priority" is to get bail proceedings started and get them out. "Next, we want to ensure that the get back to whatever immigration status they were in before they were arrested", said Talluri.

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