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Entrapment game

Entrapment game

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) quickly got into action upon receiving the notification of 129 Indian students detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for allegedly being part of a visa racket under the garb of a fake university. MEA on Tuesday revealed that it had successfully provided consular access to 117 students involved in the 'Pay to stay' visa racket, citing that work was in progress to get the same opportunity to the remaining dozen. MEA advocated the innocence of students while ICE blatantly sidelined their claims. In their response, they affirmed that students were aware of the racket and chose to be part of the same in order to have an extended stay in the country. The student visa program called CPT (Curricular Practical Training) allows students to work in the US. The students enrolled at Farmington University with the intent to obtain jobs under CPT, paying huge sums in the process to the recruiters. These recruiters, eight of them, were recently apprehended for recruiting over 100 students, mostly from India, in Farmington University. While one of them, Phanideep Karnati who holds an H-1B visa, was released on a bond of USD 10,000, the others continue to be in detention along with the students. All of them have pleaded "not guilty" as John Brusstar, Karnati's attorney, cited, criticising the US government for entrapping people. It turns out that it was US government's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) which was controlling the fake Farmington university as part of an undercover operation. Brusstar opined on how it was a trick to get people to commit the crime. The 16-page indictment says that these eight recruiters conspired to enroll over a hundred students of foreign nationality in the fake university to illegally stay and work in the US. For their facilitation of such a setup, they amassed a lot of money. Little did the recruiters know that the university that they used to mint money was actually the federal government's ploy. ICE claimed that everyone involved knew that there are no instructors in the school and that they were committing a crime by unlawfully staying in the United States. Except for Karnati, who holds an H-1B visa, the other seven detained for their crimes have their visa's revoked since ICE shut down Farmington university, rendering them undocumented. Defendants have asserted their dissent and condemned the trick played by the government to entrap people, restating that the student visa program is legitimate. While the Indian government has urged its US counterpart to release the 129 students detained by ICE on immigration charges, the US government outrightly differs. Such rackets have been in the picture for a long time but to devise a plan to engulf these people who capitalised on the opportunity by referring the students to a fake university makes the matter contentious. The debate, on one side, highlights the US government's entrapment game in which agents of HSI aimed at having 600 students enrolled in the fake university floated by them and duly approved by Department of Homeland Security. Of course, the US possesses the knowledge that visa rackets have been thriving with students opting for CPT to acquire stay until they get work which will enable them to get a work permit. With no academic progression and no degree in the picture, the sole purpose of these rackets is to aid the students in extending their stay in the US whilst they obtain a job. So when special agents of HSI played their divisionary ploy by floating Farmington University to attract these habitual offenders, the US certainly knew what it was up to which leaves only one question – does entrapment not cite deliberate intent to commit the crime? India maintained that the case of 129 detained student is grossly different from those eight who conspired to mint more than a quarter of a million dollars out of this scheme. "India continues to attach high priority to the well-being of the detained students and will remain constantly engaged with the U.S. authorities and other stakeholders, to address the issue," the Indian Ministry said in a statement. In the difficult scenario of immigration that prevails in the US, schemes like 'pay to stay' rose to offer an easy way into the US. After everyone pleaded non-guilty, the situation has evolved into an impasse with the debate swinging around whether the federal government was right in its fake university operation to nab the fraudsters. Whatever may be the conclusion there, the students stand at a difficult crossroad. They not only lost a lumpsum amount to these recruiters but further, they face indictment for being involved in such a fraudulent scheme. Irrespective of their knowledge of the illicit activity, the question hovers on whether they should be given the benefit of the doubt for being conned or made to succumb to their exploits of illegally extending their stay within the United States.

Editorial

Editorial

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