India protests radio-tagging of duped Indian students in USBy IANS
Saturday, January 29, 2011
NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON - India Saturday said it has told United States that the use of monitors on some duped Indian students of closed American Tri-Valley University by authorities was “unwarranted” and demanded the immediate removal of the measure.
The Tri-Valley University (TVU) in Pleasanton, a suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, was raided Tuesday and charged with helping foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status. Some 1,555 students of Tri-Valley University, 95 percent of them from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh face the prospect of deportation following the closure of Tri Valley University.
“We have conveyed to the US authorities that the students, most of who are victims themselves, must be treated fairly and reasonably, and that the use of monitors on a group of students, who were detained and later released with monitors in accordance with US laws, is unwarranted and should be removed,” said the external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash in New Delhi.
Throughout Saturday, Indian television channels had displaying visuals of Indian students with radio trackers around one ankle, which was apparently done to monitor their movements.
The measure is reportedly part of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Intense Supervision and Appearance Programme, prior to deportation, under which the students have to wear a GPS device.
A number of students have already been interviewed by ICE agents, most have been questioned and released, according to Jayaram Komati of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA). But he said a few have been required to wear ankle bracelets.
Expressing concern about Indan students enrolled at the closed university, he said that while about 100 students had obtained visas from the US embassy, the majority of Indian students had transferred from other universities and there was another group who were in US as dependents of their spouses.
Prakash said that MEA and Indian consulate general in San Francisco are in touch with the Indian students and US authorities, adding that “everything possible” will be done to safeguard the students’ “legitimate interests”.
“The students should be given ample opportunity to clarify their position and present their case; those who wish to return to India should be allowed to do so voluntarily; those students who have not violated any visa or immigration laws should be given opportunity to adjust their status; and, those who are eligible to seek transfer to other universities should be given adequate opportunity and time to do so,” he said.
India has also asked US authorities for provide full information about the students and keep it in the loop about investigations and prosecution against the Tri-Valley University.
Next week, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement will issue a detailed advisory for all TVU students, which will provide guidance on the process to seek admission in other schools.
Besides, all TVU students have been asked to report to the nearest ICE office for instructions.
“Those students who are presently in India with TVU sponsored visas should not travel to the US with that visa. They can apply to other universities and, if admitted, could apply afresh for new visas,” said Prakash.
Meanwhile, US authorities have opened a helpline for the Indian students at TvU. “”We have set up an email address and voicemail that Tri-Valley students can use to contact ICE Homeland Security Investigations directly with their questions,” said Lari K. Haley, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman.
Haley said any affected student can call the US number 415-844-5320 and leave a voice message. An ICE representative will return the call. Students can also write to ‘SFRHSIFraud@dhs.gov’, seeking help.
Earlier, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said: “We requested the (US) state department to take a lenient view because all the students are innocent”.
On Jan 20, ICE agents raided the Tri-Valley University and executed search warrants at three other properties owned by school founder Susan Su.
A day earlier, the US Attorney General’s Office filed a civil complaint against Su, claiming she was part of a scheme to defraud, using false statements and misrepresentations to the department of Homeland Security.
The complaint says Su had made millions of dollars in tuition fees for issuing visa-related documents that enabled foreign nationals to obtain illegal student immigration status.
School offices are closed and classes that were to begin after the holidays have not started.
Students, who pay about $2,700 per semester, have been left uncertain about their immigration status and future education options. The majority of the school’s classes are done online.