Just Be Fair
Indian students entrapped by US authorities must get humane treatment and due process
Four US lawmakers have now joined the chorus of strong reactions against the detention of nearly 130 Indian students entrapped by undercover agents in their attempts to overstay in the country. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) foisted a fake university whereby nearly 600 Indian students, completing their master’s degree coursework, were stung by agents dangling the bait of maintaining student visa status and obtaining work authorisation.
Indian officials after interacting with the students say they were gullible and had come legitimately to US to study in accredited American universities but were now facing an uncertain future at the fag end of their education journey. US universities are a preferred destination for Indian students despite the forbidding dollar costs, because of high expectations of quality education and employment opportunities. But the questionable methods used to enforce immigration laws smack of America’s current anti-immigration overdrive and prompt unease.
This is happening even as the Trump administration is looking to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for India. Under this vital trade concession India enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the US, so it needs to raise its diplomatic game to prevent such a setback. And also to make the case that Indian students in the US fundamentally contribute to the economy and deserve humane treatment and due process. Rather than dubious modes to entrap vulnerable students into visa fraud, DHS should nab those actually setting up “pay and stay” universities and companies. India also needs to review its own flawed policies that prevent foreign universities from setting up campuses here. If the US is scaling down the American dream of freedom, opportunities for success, and prosperity it should be allowed to flower in India – by setting up a vibrant and scalable education system.