Fake University students were aware they were committing visa 'crime': US

The students that were arrested in the case was released from custody based on the condition that they have to wear ankle monitors that would allow authorities to monitor their movements electronically.

The students arrested in connection with a fake university visa scam has been accused by the US of being "aware they were committing a crime" for visas when they enrolled at the institution. But the lawyers for those charged accused the government of tricking them.

"All participants in this scheme knew that the University of Farmington had no instructors or classes (neither online nor in-person) and were aware they were committing a crime in an attempt to fraudulently remain in the US.", as Stated by the State Department on Monday in a statement

After India's External Affairs Ministry issued a demarche to the US embassy in New Delhi, the US reaction came asserting that the students "have been duped into enrolling in the 'university' (and) should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them".

Lawyers for the accused recruiters in the scam on Monday accused that there was a fake institution set up by US law enforcement officials. The lawyers further accused that the government tricked the students into enrolling at the University of Farmington, according to the Detroit Free Press.

129 Indian students and eight alleged recruiters were arrested by US immigration officials involved with the university, last week.

A lawyer for one of the accused recruiters, John Brusstar, criticized the sting operation saying "it is unfair for the government to set up something like this to entrap people".

The eight alleged recruiters have been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring aliens for profit while the students face only civil immigration charges. The recruiters had to face maximum sentences of five years.

According to the newspaper, one of the arrested students is a Palestinian as the students are released with electronic monitors is considered preferable to being detained with those accused of major crimes while awaiting trial or disposition of cases.

On Monday, according to the Free Press, Five of the alleged recruiters were produced wearing shackles in a federal court in Detroit but denied they were guilty.

PhanideepKarnati, who is represented by Brusstar was ordered released on a $10,000 unsecured bond by Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen who is on a work visa, according to the Free Press.

The newspaper further reported that Prem Rampeesa, another accused, has requested an interpreter and is to be produced in court later.

The newspaper quoted prosecutors as saying in order to get jobs under a student visa programme called Curricular Practical Training (CPT), the students enrolled at the fake university that would allow them to work.

But lawyers for the accused countered saying that the government had tricked them into joining the University of Farmington.and such programmes are legitimate.

The fake university was set up in 2015 by Democratic President Barack Obama's administration but the arrests came during a period of heightened immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump.

  • 14-Feb-2019

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