Sunday, 13 February 2011

Radio tagging of Tri-Valley University students: Attorney-at-law Kalpana V Peddibhotla comes to rescue of Indian students

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Indian students of the controversial Tri-Valley University are eligible for monetary compensation including refund of the tuition fee as they are victims of the university's actions. The students did not breach any criminal law but had only followed the university's procedures for the admission, according to attorney at law Kalpana V Peddibhotla.
Kalpana, co-founder and partner of Immigration Law Partners in California, practices immigration and nationality law. Thanks to her legal aid two of the Indian students were freed of their radio tags. More students will have their radio tags removed by US immigration authorities when Kalpana will take up their case later this week. Kalpana's family hails from Andhra Pradesh and she is now seen as a Messiah by the Indian students cheated by Tri-Valley University.
All that the students have to do is to file a case in a civil court against the university and seek refund of the money they had paid to the sham educational institution. They are even eligible for monetary compensation,
argues Kalpana.
Kalpana, whose father was born in Bobbili town, has taken up the cause of the Indian students after they were radio tagged. "The students have followed the procedures of the university. They have not breached any criminal law. Though radio tagging is one of the options exercised by immigration authorities in the USA, the Indian students do not deserve it as they are not criminals," she told this correspondent in a telephone interview.
Stating that the major issue before the students is whether they will regain their immigration status, Kalpana said "I believe that many of these students are the victims of Tri-Valley’s actions, and advocacy by the community and the attorney is needed to help restore their immigration status". What happens to their studies is another issue before them.
Kalpana's husband Peddibhotla Ram is from Hyderabad and both of them were in the city in December. She is a graduate of Chicago Kent College of Law, and UC Berkeley. She is admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court, the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Federal District Court.
According to her, the investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into alleged immigration irregularities at Tri-Valley University and the raid on the school on January 19, 2011 has resulted in a cloud of uncertainty over the immigration status of the school’s foreign students. "Shortly after the school closed I received a number of calls from students concerned, as did many other immigration attorneys in the country".
"This is a community issue", she said adding it has been tremendous to see organisations mobilising to assist the students the best they can. In the immediate days that followed, Jayaram Komati, the president of the Telugu Association of North America, recognised that this issue raised serious legal issues and requested that "he use my name along with Attorney Ashwani Bhakri as a potential referral to inquiring students".
Asked about the financial crunched faced by these students, Kalpana said TANA and other organisations have helped in securing some funds to assist with legal fees for some of the students. "It is my understanding that other community groups have also stepped forward to assist the affected students."
She said the Office of the Consulate General of India in San Francisco recently worked together with the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California to hold a community legal forum on February 5, 2010 to address the concerns of the students. Kalpana participated on this legal panel along with attorneys, Manpreet Gahra, Harjot Walia, and Palvir Shoker. Recently, the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), has issued some details as to the immigration options open to the students. "However, these details leave many unanswered questions. I hope that in the coming weeks these questions will be answered by officials in the Department of Homeland Security. To that end, I believe further advocacy by the community is required."
The North American South Asian Bar Association, which is an organisation representing thousands of South Asian-American attorneys in the United States and Canada, intends to tackle some of this advocacy and will hopefully partner with other organisations to this end. While recognising there is an ongoing investigation and each individual student’s situation may vary, the lack of clear direction from DHS is resulting in students in similar situations being treated differently.
In the Bay Area, 18 students received Notices to Appear ("NTAs"), which is the initiation of deportation proceedings. These students were also "radio tagged." "I currently represent 7 of these students. Myself and Mr Manpreet Gahra intend to jointly represent an additional 8 more of these students. It is our goal to seek the best immigration options for each of these students, and ideally have the radio tags removed immediately."
She said on Thursday two of the Indian students had their radio tags removed by ICE, and "I will now seek to have their deportation proceedings terminated. Mr. Gahra and I hope to achieve similar results for the other students."

1 comment:

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