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Updated: February 3, 2011 01:12 IST

U.S. authorities promise “good judgement and commonsense”

Narayan Lakshman
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Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the United States
PTI Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the United States

The embassy confirmed that the consulate in San Francisco had been in contact with ICE officials there and Indian consular officials had consulted with three groups of affected TVU students, both in San Francisco and in Washington, respectively.

United States officials handling the cases of Indian students caught up in the alleged immigration fraud by Tri-Valley University in the San Francisco area promised Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Meera Shankar, that they would exercise “good judgement and commonsense,” in handling the case, according to sources.

Since the case against TVU and its head, Susan Xiao-Ping Su, became evident last week, the fate of hundreds of students, many from Andhra Pradesh, hung in limbo with “a small proportion of them” facing deportation or criminal proceedings, according to official statements here.

Officials in India and representatives of the students had also expressed dismay when it became clear over the weekend that ICE intended to use ankle-attached radio tags to monitor the movements of some of the students involved.

Official sources confirmed that some students were in “detention” over the use of the radio tags, even as State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in response to a question from The Hindu, “[The use of] ankle monitors... is widespread across the U.S. and standard procedure for a variety of investigations. It does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity.”

However Ms. Shankar was said to have received assurances from the Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, that his team would “handle the case with good judgement and commonsense.”

Further, ICE officials conveyed to the Indian embassy their assessment that while fraud was involved in the case of some students, there were definitely other cases where the students were “victims.”

Sources here also made clear that the Indian embassy had been intensively involved in back-channel discussions surrounding the TVU case. “Our position is that students should not be victimised and should be given the option to either transfer to another university or visa or return to India and reapply for a visa,” officials said.

In touch with affected students

The embassy also confirmed that the consulate in San Francisco had been in contact with ICE officials there and Indian consular officials had consulted with three groups of affected TVU students, both in San Francisco and in Washington, respectively.

Further, embassy officials said that three dedicated email accounts had been set up as a virtual hotline for those seeking advice on this case, and these were accessible through the embassy’s website.

Mr. Crowley indicated that ICE had also set up a helpline for Indian students affected, adding that the State Department was “in regular communication with officials of the Government of India. [The] Department of Homeland Security and ICE are leading this investigation.”

Touching upon some of the details of the case, official sources said that TVU head Ms. Su had allegedly offered some of the students a “profit-sharing scheme” that entailed a fee-waiver in exchange for referrals that led to further student recruitment.

Under this scheme TVU also offered the “grandfather” student even more benefits when one student that he referred in turn made another successful referral.


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