Indian students held in sting op by U.S. agencies, claims Facebook post

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The external affairs ministry statement said authorities were closely monitoring the situation and taking proactive measures.

United States authorities had arrested 129 Indians enrolled at a fake university ran by undercover agents in Detroit, Michigan to expose a "pay-to-stay" immigration fraud till Thursday and officials have said more apprehensions are expected. "We have urged the USA 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 added.

More than 100 Indian students, who the authorities said had knowingly enrolled in the fake school, were reported to have been detained.

According to the indictment, the university was being used by foreign citizens as a "pay-to-stay" scheme which allowed them to stay in the United States by saying they were enrolled as full-time students in an institution that was certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is run by the Department of Homeland Security.

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The university in Detroit's Farmington Hills was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created to expose immigration fraud, according to federal prosecutors who announced charges in the case. It said it was trying to help the affected students and had met Indian consular officials in the U.S. about the case. However, Indian officials said the students had been duped.

The fake university was set up by ICE in the Greater Detroit area to bust a "pay-and-stay" racket. "The relationship between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not in high spirits anyway", said a former Indian Ambassador to the USA who refused to be identified. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made the arrests on Wednesday (January 30).

The indictment accuses the students of enrolling only to stay in the country, not to get an education. "Welfare of those detained is the highest priority for us", he said.

The American Telugu Association urged "students to be wary of fake agents who promise illegal ways to stay in U.S. through admissions in unaccredited colleges and universities". It held no classes and collected a nominal fee from students and gave them "curricular practical training" after their enrolment, providing temporary authorisation for practical training related to their study or to work.

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It goes on to allege that each student knew the university's programmes were not approved by Homeland Security and that it was illegal.

The number is expected to increase further, as ICE officials continue with their nationwide crackdown on Indian students enrolled in this fake university while working at different places.

Officials from the Indian consulate in Houston have met the detained Indian students at the Montgomery Processing Centre and Prairieland Detention Centre in Texas.

The Indian Embassy and consulates are in touch with the various USA government departments, including the Homeland Security and the ICE, and consular officers have met with some of the detainees, the Indian Embassy told The Hindu on Friday afternoon.

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