Detained Indian students: US Congress members call for their humane treatment

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 07, 2019, 07.21 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Four members of the US congress have written to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Ronald Vitiello uring the the departments to treat the 129 Indian students detained in the US "properly" and to afford "all rights provided" to them under the law, including "access to an attorney and release on bond, if they are eligible". 

The four members of congress are Thomas R Suozzi, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Brenda Lawrence and Rob Woodall. 

The 129 students were detained by US immigration authorities for allegedly exploiting the US student visa system. 

The Department of Homeland Security had set up a fake university in Michigan to nab eight recruiters involved in the visa fraud when the 129 Indian students were nabbed too. 

The letter, a copy of which WION has, also urged DHS and ICE "to share full details and regular updates regarding the Indian students with the embassy and consulates of India" and "facilitate consular access for the detainees".

Emphasising that "India is an important strategic partner and friend to the United states", the letter said "these students are a vital pillar of the people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, and they come to the US on grounds of merit" and "in the spirit of continuing cooperation on educational exchange programs which benefit both countries economically and culturally" and that they should be treated "fairly, humanely and in accordance with due process". 

The Ministry of External Affairs had issued a demarche to the US embassy in New Delhi over the detention of the 129 Indian students and has been urging the US side to give "humane and dignified treatment" to the students including custom-sensitive "dietary and living arrangements" for the duration of their detention. A 24/7 helpline has also been established at the Indian mission in Washington DC for the assistance of the students. 

The US authorities meanwhile plan to deport the Indian students and have placed them under "removal proceedings". 

Indian students comprised 17.3% — a total of 186,000 — of all international students in the US in 2017. 
 

Story highlights

Four members of the US Congress have written to the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asking that the students be treated 'properly' and that all rights be provided to them.