Tri-Valley case: A law firm's open letter to Obama

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San Francisco:  The fate of Tri-Valley University students who risk being deported if they are found in violation of their immigration status could be decided in the next few days.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities are expected to announce guidelines for the students caught in the controversy this week.

Meanwhile, a San Francisco-based immigration firm has raised the issue of the Indian students at Tri-Valley University in an open letter to US President Barack Obama.

Here's the full text of the letter:

Dear President Obama,

During your run for President many people in the immigrant community were over joyed to hear that you did not take extreme positions in regards to immigration nor did you campaign on a policy of getting "tough on immigration" like many of your counter-parts. Yet during your Presidency the issue of immigration continues to heat up, while issues like SB1070 further polarize our nation. Lately we have seen strong legislation and guidance that has negatively impacted the South Asian community. These rulings have primarily hurt people from India with the passing of stringent rules against H-1B holders and Indian students. I feel that such anti-immigrant sentiment against lawful tax paying immigrant workers is unwarranted and unnecesary. Many studies and surveys have shown that the contributions of East Indians to the United States' economy is unparalleled. While I am neither an Indian citizen nor an Indian resident, I feel obligated as a United States Citizen and an officer of the court to bring to your attention a pressing issue.

Just recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcements agents raided Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton California for issuing invalid form I-20s to hundreds of international students. The U.S. attorney's office alleges the owner of Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton used the unaccredited school to charge foreigners millions of dollars in tuition fees and help them obtain student visas to stay in the United States. Yet despite the fact that these students are victims of fraud, ICE is treating them as co-conspirators in this massive crime.

At the moment, many of those students who took Tri-Valley courses risk being deported if they are found to be in violation of their immigration status. This is despite the fact that they were issued valid U.S. visas by American consular officials. It is highly unlikely that the majority of these students had any idea they were enrolled in a sham university. Most of the students enrolled at Tri-Valley University simply wanted to improve their prospects in life and ensure themselves a better future by doing so. Unfortunatly, all of these students are being treated as potential criminals despite having no intention of defrauding any rules of the United States Government.

These students deserve better than to be thrown out of the country for being victims of fraud. Many of these students invested their hard earned money and the next few years of their lives in the United States when they obtained their student visas to study at Tri-Valley University and in doing so gave up other options in their home countries. It is important to mention that many of the Tri-Valley students are Master and Phd degree holders. After talking to hundreds of these students, we have started an online petition to support them on our website at www.peerallylaw.com. In just a few days, we have gathered more than 450 online signatures that support our contentions. The petition is ongoing and we hope to obtain several hundred more signatures.

The least we ask is that clemency be provided to these students so that they may be permitted to depart the United States without repercussion or, if eligible, be permitted to obtain a change of status or transfer to another school.

This event is turning into a diplomatic nightmare forcing the US consulate in India to apologize at every turn. The rage of seeing students on camera with radio tagged ankle bracelets is fueling many heated debates in India, and even turning the people of one of the most powerful economies in the world, to exhibit anti-American sentiments. Many are even contemplating boycotting the United States. This is a not a healthy situation for the United States. Our reputation in the world has been tarnished. We need to quickly rectify this situation.

While the world is turning anti-American, I still believe that the United States of America was founded on being a welcoming land for immigrants and remains "The Land of the free and the home of the brave." I personally defend the United States whenever I hear anti-American voices. Please give me a chance to continue having the ability to defend our great country.

It is therefore, important for your administration to handle this situation delicately and make sure India and its people continue to look upon us favorably.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Shah Peerally, Esq.
President of Shah Peerally Law Group PC.

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