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Fake university offer that led to arrest of Indians was 'entrapment', says U.S. presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at an event in Los Angeles. File photo

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at an event in Los Angeles. File photo   | Photo Credit: AFP

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The operation during 2017 and 2019 offered students chance to enrol at the University of Farmington, so they could be seen as making progress to a degree in order to maintain their visa status in the U.S. and get curricular practical training permits on which to work

Reacting to a report that an additional 90 students had been arrested in the University of Farmington immigration operation in Michigan over the past few months, presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren said the operation was “cruel” and the students were “entrapped”.

“This is cruel and appalling,” Ms. Warren tweeted. “These students simply dreamed of getting the high-quality higher education America can offer. ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] deceived and entrapped them, just to deport them.”

 

The operation, conducted by Homeland Security agents, roughly between 2017 and 2019, offered students the chance to enrol at the university, so they could be seen as making progress to a degree in order to maintain their visa status in the U.S. and get curricular practical training permits on which to work. U.S. agents said the students were in on the scam. The Hindu had reported in February that 129 of the 130 arrested were Indians.

The Farmington story was first reported by the Detroit Free Press which reported again on Wednesday that an additional 90 students had been arrested in the March-July period, causing Ms. Warren to react.

‘Entrapment’ is a legal concept and refers to a situation in which law enforcement induces a crime that the defendant would not have otherwise committed. Ms. Warren’s reference to students being “entrapped” resonates with the angle Indian Embassy officials had taken on the Farmington case earlier this year. The officials had tried impressing upon the U.S. authorities that the legal environment and law enforcement practices in India did not support such operations, so the students were perhaps unfamiliar with the concept and had accepted the offers that were made to them. U.S. officials had, as per Indian diplomats, taken a more lenient view based on this argument.

The Indian Embassy in Washington DC has contacted the U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security after reading the report, an embassy spokesperson told The Hindu.

“We have contacted the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security on the matter raised in the media report. They are examining the matter and will revert,” the spokesperson said.

“It will be recalled that the Indian Embassy and Consulates in USA were proactive in securing consular access to the students detained in connection with the Farmington issue in February 2019. Subsequently, as the article indicates, most students implicated were released and allowed to return to India.”

Of the approximately 250 students who had been arrested until July, 80% were allowed to voluntarily depart the U.S. 10 % have received their final removal orders and the remaining 10% had either applied for relief or were fighting their cases, as per Wednesday’s report in the Detroit Free Press. Additionally, seven of eight Indian origin people who helped recruit students have been sentenced, as per the report.

No arrests in the case have been made since July, the ICE has confirmed for The Hindu.

“Undercover schools provide a unique perspective in understanding the ways in which students and recruiters try to exploit the non-immigrant student visa system,” a spokesperson from the ICE told The Hindu. Such operations also act as deterrents to those seeking to violate visa rules, the spokesperson said.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 1:29:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/senator-elizabeth-warren-says-farmington-case-was-entrapment-calls-it-cruel-appalling/article30103564.ece

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