GPS anklet and food on dole: After Farmington, she reaps only distress
SIX MORE STUDENTS GET BAIL
Hyderabad: Confined within the four walls of her paying guest accommodation in cold Sacramento (California), University of Farmington student Saritha (name changed) can barely wait for March 14. That’s when she is set to appear before a judge and, hopefully, be freed of the GPS tracker strapped around her ankle. Until then, the 25-year-old will stay put indoors and survive on little money and a thin supply of vegetables and rice provided by a generous Indian family.
Saritha had set out to achieve her big American dream in 2015, by signing up for a master’s programme at the Northwestern Polytechnic University . She then went to the University of Farmington. After initial phase of uncertainty, just when she thought she was finally inching closer to it, her pursuit hit a major roadblock on January 30 when officers from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), came knocking on her door.
“They woke me up at 6.30am and asked me to accompany them to their office. I was interrogated till 8.30pm and told to report at the Intensive Supervisor and Appearance Program office the next day. That’s where they radiotagged me. I was instructed not to leave California, pay them a visit every Thursday, not change my postal address and not go back to India,” she said, speaking to TOI over telephone.
The anxiety and distress evident in her voice came as no surprise from the Hyderabad-bred girl who joined the sham varsity on advice of an anna (brother). “When I spoke to DHS officials today, they said they had a very strong case against me. According to them, even if I opt for voluntary departure now, I will be banned from the US for 10 years,” Saritha said, confessing that long ban will push her family into a terrible monetary crisis.
But staying back to fight the case might not be an option for Saritha either. Reason: the high cost of hiring an attorney. Six more students arrested in the visa-fraud case were granted bail and released from a detention centre in California on Friday. A team of lawyers were put together to represent the Indian students, including the eight recruiters from AP and Telangana, reports
As the federal judiciary has been facing a shortage of judges due to a nation-wide judicial crisis, there was a delay in getting bail
APNRT workers are confident that more students will be out of the detention centre in California today
Ravi Vemuri, vice-president of Andhra Pradesh Non-Resident Telugu (APNRT) society, said that US immigration and customs enforcement was planning more undercover operations
He advised students to research about any university in-depth before taking up offers
On January 30, US immigration and customs enforcement arrested eight students who acted as recruiters on charges of conspiring to commit visa fraud
Apart from the eight recruiters, US federal agents also detained 129 for enrolling in a fake university
appears (from documents with TOI) that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials decided to deport Saritha because of her ambiguous answers over attendance. According to them, while she claimed she attended classes at least once a week, she could not provide travel documents to support her claim. Saritha was staying in one part of the US and claimed she flew to Michigan (where the fake university is located) each time. Also, CBP authorities found a certificate of attendance in her possession that stated she had met the required 80% attendance, even as the student herself later confessed she hadn’t. In a subsequent query she also vaguely said that she had physically visited the premises only 5-6 times.