Hundreds of Indian students face jail, deportation in US college scam

The US Homeland Security department has detained hundreds of  Indian students and issued warrants for some over students over alleged immigration rule violations. The students had enrolled themselves with a fake university established by the Homeland Security department as part of a covert operation to identify immigration violators. They are now likely to face deportation or criminal charges.

The news about this sting operation by a government agency was  broken by the American Telugu Association (ATA), an organisation of Telugu origin people in North America, which said in a Facebook post that the incident was brought to their attention by some of the victims and their friends.

The organisation has confirmed that 100 students from the Farmington University in Michigan have been arrested and warrants have been issued for another 600. Eight educational consulting agents, all of Indian origin, have been taken into ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody.

A post on the official Facebook page of the ATA said, “Beginning in 2015, the university was part of a federal law enforcement undercover operation designed to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration fraud. Eight student recruiters were charged with participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign citizens stay in the U.S. illegally, according to the indictments.”

The arrests were followed by raids to snare racketeers who misuse the student visa to help unqualified foreigners to stay and work in the US. The justice department’s Michigan branch announced the arrest of the eight men, whose names indicated they were either Indians or American citizens of Indian descent, from all over the country and charged them with visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.

The alleged recruiters arrested were identified as Barath Kakireddy, of Florida; Suresh Kandala, of Virginia; Phanideep Karnati, of Kentucky; Prem Rampeesa, of North Carolina; Santosh Sama, of California; Avinash Thakkallapally, of Pennsylvania; Aswanth Nune, of Georgia; and Naveen Prathipati, of Texas,

Homeland Security agents started posing as university officials in February 2017. The immigration crimes continued until this month and involved Homeland Security agents posing as owners and employees of the university.

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