The deportation of hundreds of aspiring Indian students betrays not just a lack of synergy between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. consular missions in India but also a series of fatal flaws in the regulation of American higher education
In late 2015, Venkat, an Indian national, arrived at a popular West Coast airport in the U.S., brimming with excitement about the degree in computer science that he hoped to pursue at Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU), in Fremont, California.
He had diligently pulled together what he believed was a strong cache of evidence on his college admission and his financial record, including documents citing the value of the farmland his father owned and even his brother’s income certificate.
But a different fate awaited him.
Instead of disembarking the aircraft and travelling on to the NPU campus as he had hoped, Venkat was pulled out of the immigration line and grilled for three hours by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in a well-lit, sparsely furnished room.
During the interrogation, officials even tested his academic proficiency with mathematics equations and computer science concepts, and despite giving “satisfactory answers” to convince the border police of his bona fide admission to NPU, Venkat was handcuffed at the end of the ordeal, deported to India and slapped with a five-year entry ban.
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