The Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla has expressed confidence that officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will have access to all detained Indian students in the country by tomorrow. The ministry said it urged the U.S. to release them "at the earliest" and cautioned that some "may have been duped".
According to the American Telugu Association, eight Indian student recruiters have been charged in a USA federal court for participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign nationals stay in the USA illegally, according to the indictments.
They said the manner in which the students were enrolled at the fake university, created by ICE to lure students allegedly trying to remain in the United States, amounted to "entrapment".
The Indian government has asked the US Department of Homeland Security for a list of all the detained Indian students and a formal request has been placed for providing consular access to them.
"A demarche was made to the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs".
A website for the University of Farmington showed pictures of students in classes and libraries, or relaxing around a grassy campus.
The Detroit News said that six alleged recruiters, who were arrested locally, were produced in a local federal court on Thursday wearing ankle chains and handcuffs.
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The ministry said a 24/7 helpline has been established in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance/queries related to the detention of Indian students. "Vast majority" of those arrested and detained are Indian nationals, an ICE official told PTI.
"These suspects aided hundreds of foreign nationals to remain in the United States illegally by helping to portray them as students, which they most certainly were not", Special Agent in charge Steve Francis said this week.
Prosecutors say the spurious university was being used as a "pay to stay" scheme - allowing people who entered the country legally as students to extend their stay and work by transferring to it.
It may be recalled that eight recruiters from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (AP) are among those booked by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which carried out a sting operation. Officials from the Indian embassy and consulates in the U.S. visited several detention centres and about 30 students have so far been contacted by consular officers.
The association, according to Detroit Free Press, confirmed that about 100 students had been arrested and others were facing arrest warrants. "They promised that they were working closely with the concerned authorities and will resolve the issue in a fast and amicable manner", said TANA secretary Anjaiah Chowdary Lavu.
"So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers". This was done following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In the "about us" page, the university said, "University of Farmington traces its lineage back to the early 1950s, when returning soldiers from the Second World War were seeking a quality and marketable education".