The Indian government called on U.S. authorities to fairly treat over 100 Indians who were arrested after enrolling in a fake university in the United States.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents created the bogus University of Farmington, outside of Detroit, Michigan, in 2015. Since then, more than 600 foreign citizens enrolled in the school, the U.S. government alleges — despite the fact that it had no faculty, no campus, and no hallmarks of any legitimate U.S. higher education institution.
U.S. prosecutors say that all who enrolled were aware the university was fake and intentionally engaged in visa fraud, but the Indian government claims that many may have been "duped".
"Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release Saturday.
"We underlined that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the University' should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them."
As of Thursday, 130 "students", all but one of them Indian, had been arrested for enrolling. Eight more people face criminal charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbor aliens for profit, according to court documents, and a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. They collectively earned more than $250,000 through the recruiting scheme, according to the federal indictment.
The scheme, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, lured willing students to a school they knew would never grant them a degree, but would allow them to work legally in the United States while technically being enrolled in higher education, potentially committing visa fraud.
The Indian government has set up a "24/7 Helpline" based out of their consulate in Washington "For queries and assistance related to the detention of Indian students in the US".