US assures India of ''good judgement'' in handling students case

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 2 (PTI) In the wake of strong protestlodged by India over radio-tagging of Indian students duped bya California-based "sham" university, US immigrationauthorities have assured New Delhi that they would use "goodjudgement and common sense" while handling the case.

The assurance was given by John Morton, Director of theUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to IndianAmbassador Meera Shankar.

Morton called Shankar after the Indian embassy lodgedstrong protest before ICE and other US agencies against themanner in which hundreds of Indian students of the Tri ValleyUniversity were being treated by ICE, including forcing scoresof them to wear radio tags and suspension of Student andExchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that preventedthem from taking admission in other colleges.

Indian officials here have argued that there is no needto radio tag students as they do not have any intention toflee the country and they all are here having valid visas.

"Efforts are on to ensure that people who are legitimatestudents are not affected," said an Indian official familiarwith the discussions with the US officials on this issue.

Shankar is understood to have strongly taken up the caseof Tri Valley students with not only ICE, but also Departmentof Homeland Security and State Department officials.

Objecting to the manner in which Indian students arebeing treated, Indian embassy officials have argued that thesestudents need to be treated in a humane manner and should notbe made a victim of the federal investigation against the TriValley University founder and President Susan Su.

Shankar, during her interaction with the US officials,had specifically told them that radio tags should not be usedagainst Indian students and that the blockage of SEVIS belifted immediately so that students can apply for transfer toother universities and given sufficient time for this.

Also students may be permitted to go back to India,without prejudice, and not deported and allowed in normalcourse to reapply for studies in the US at authoriseduniversities, the US officials were told. (More) PTI LKJ

During the conversation, the US officials, including the ICE Director, are believed to have acknowledged that there area lot of innocent victims, but did not rule out that theremight be some students who were involved in this scam.

Sources privy to the discussions said the ICE Directorassured Shankar that instead of seeing this entire case aspurely a law enforcement measure, he would be using "goodjudgement and common sense" in resolving the issues related tothe students.

US officials are believed to have assured Indianauthorities that every effort would be made to ensure that theacademic career of genuine students is not affected and theyget ample opportunity and alternatives to pursue their goals.

At the same time, deportation proceedings might bestarted against some, the officials conceded.

It is understood that the US officials told Indianauthorities that there is not going to be a general amnestykind of thing, and issues related to Indian students would behandled on a case by case basis.

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