WASHINGTON: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday arrested eight persons – believed to be either Indian citizens or Indian Americans – for using fruad means to help hundreds of immigrants remain in the US illegally as students.
Those arrested are in their late 20s or early 30s. Though the ICE did not reveal the nationalities of the arrested persons, they are dentified as Barath Kakireddy, Suresh Kandala, Phanideep Karnati, Prem Rampeesa, Santosh Sama, Avinash Thakkallapally, Aswanth Nune, and Naveen Prathipati.
The ICE released a statement saying six persons were arrested in Detroit area while the other two persons were arrested in Virginia and Florida.
PTI quoted special agent Charge Francis as saying that hundreds of foreign nationals were aided by the arrested persons to remain in the US illegally by helping to portray them as students. “Homeland Security Investigations special agents uncovered a nationwide network that grossly exploited US immigration laws,” Francis said.
The indictments obtained by PTI showed that a group of foreign citizens conspired fraudulently to help hundreds of foreign nationals stay illegally in the US from February 2017 to January 2019 by recruiting them to enroll into Detroit private Farmington University.
The ICE said that the conspirators did not know that special agents of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were operating Farmington University as part of an undercover operation.
Commenting on the matter, US Attorney Matthew Schneider said that the US government knows that international students can be an asset to our country, but this case clearly highlights the fact that some vested interests can exploit and abuse the international student visa program.
It may be recalled that in 2016, 21 people were arrested by ICE for similar charges for a fake University of Northern New Jersey.