India on Saturday issued a demarche to the American embassy here expressing its concern over detention of 129 Indian students in the US following their enrolment in a “fraudulent university” and sought immediate consular access to them. The students, who had been charged with committing visa fraud by enrolling in the fictitious “University of Farmington” in Michigan State, along with eight recruiters in different US states, were caught in a sting operation.
The external affairs ministry is trying to ensure that Indian the students are released from detention and not summarily deported. The US immigration and customs enforcement agents made the detention on Wednesday.
A spokesperson from the American embassy in India said, “We can confirm that the embassy received a demarche from the ministry of external affairs about the Indian citizens detained in the US this week. Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated.”
The MEA underlined to the US embassy that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the “university” should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them.
“We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will,” the ministry said.
The India mission and consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the US to extend consular assistance to the detained students, the MEA said.
“So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining are continuing,” it said.
The ministry said a helpline has been established in the Indian embassy in Washington for assistance related to the detention of Indian students. The helpline numbers are: +1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 and email is: [email protected]