The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued a demarche to the United States Embassy in New Delhi over the detention of Indian students in the alleged immigration scam.
India has said that its Embassy and Consulates in the United States attach "the highest priority to the welfare of the detained students" and "will continue to work with the US authorities and other stakeholders to address the issue".
Indian news reports say as many as 129 Indians were among those detained on January 30 by U.S. immigration authorities in connection with enrollment at a fake university.
While efforts are on by the Indian missions and consulates in the U.S. to get in touch with the detained students, the government has also mobilised its widespread diaspora community and other Indian associations there to garner more details on these students from detention centres. "HSI remains vigilant to ensure the integrity of USA immigration laws and will continue to investigate this and other transnational crimes", said Special Agent Charge Francis. It said it was trying to help the affected students and had met Indian consular officials in the United States about the case.
The National Human Rights Commission had even submitted a representation to the external affairs ministry, pointing out how it amounted to violation of the students' human rights.
About 130 foreign students, a lot of them Indians, were rounded up after enrolling at the University of Farmington, in what prosecutors claim was a case of "pay-to-stay" immigration fraud.
The MEA release said that officials posted at India's mission and consulates have visited several detention centres in the United States to extend consular assistance to detained students.
Consular Officers from Indian Consulate in Houston met the arrested Indian students at Prairieland Detention Centre, Alvarado, Texas. "Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing". The two numbers - 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 - would be manned by senior embassy officials round the clock, officials said on Friday. So they enrolled at the University of Farmington, believing that they could apply their prior credits to the new programme, which seemed to emphasise work experience, he said.
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.
A website for the University of Farmington showed pictures of students in classes and libraries, or relaxing around a grassy campus.
ICE agents launched a fake university at Farmington Hills in MI as a part of Operation "Paper Chase" to take down immigration violators and recruiters.
This is the second such case when Department of Homeland Security has used a fake university to unearth a fake student visa racket.
The American Telugu Association (ATA) reported that 100 students were arrested on Wednesday. This intervention by officials from the Indian embassy and its consulates has helped in release of some of the arrested students.
The website of the fake university has been closed by government officials.
They had helped foreign nationals illegally remain in the United States by enrolling them into a metro Detroit private university, which was actually being operated by USA agents themselves.