ICE acting director Tony Pham is pictured announcing arrests in ICE photo
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 11 Indian students for alleged fraudulent use of the Optional Program Training, or OPT, program to stay in the country, reports The Quint.
The 11 Indian students were among 15 international students arrested for OPT fraud across the country. ICE also arrested one Bangladeshi student, one Senegalese student, and two Libyan students.
OPT allows non-immigrant students to remain in the US for up to one year if they are working in a position related to their field of study, with an additional 24 months for students in STEM.
According to The Hindustan Times, the arrests are just the preliminary results of ICE’s new Operation OPTical Illusion targeting fraudulent use of OPT.
“ICE has a system of checks in place to mitigate fraud and is committed to protecting national security by ensuring that students, visitors, and schools comply with US immigration laws,” said acting ICE director Tony Pham. “These latest arrests demonstrate that the agency is actively targeting individuals who try to exploit the student visa system.”
ICE says that the 15 students who were arrested claimed that they were employed by companies that did not exist.
“This is just another example of the Trump Administration not only putting America first but making sure the laws of the immigration system are enforced,” Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary, said in a press release.
“Every instance of fraud is a job an American worker could have had, and with so many Americans looking for work this crime is even more unacceptable.”
The arrests come as international students face increased difficulty in staying in the US. Last month, Inside Higher Ed reported on the Trump administration’s plans to set a fixed time period of four years for student visas.
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