CHICAGO, March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") raided and shut down Tri-Valley University ("TVU") nearly two months ago. The impact of this event is still making waves across the country and abroad.
It is estimated that over 90% of TVU's approximately 1,500 students were from India. After the ICE raid and TVU closure, many TVU students have been issued Removal Notices, indicating that the government believes their continued presence in the U.S. is not lawful.
The majority of these students have faced deep anxiety over their status due to inconsistent messages from immigration authorities and the general lack of clear guidelines regarding their status. A former TVU student succinctly captured the essence of this uncertainty stating that "reinstatement applications are not guaranteed, and if denied, students have to leave (the) US as soon as possible."
The Indian American Bar Association of Chicago ("IABA") and its national affiliate organization, the North American South Asian Bar Association ("NASABA"), have taken active steps to help resolve some of the uncertainty facing displaced TVU students. NASABA issued a letter dated February 25, 2011 (available at http://wp.me/pTgfA-9e) to key government officials, including Secretary Janet Napolitano (Department of Homeland Security) and Director John Morton (ICE), raising serious concerns about the legal status and treatment of former TVU students.
Taking a direct approach to assist displaced TVU students, on March 12, 2011, IABA collaborated with the Indian Consulate of Chicago, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, and volunteer attorneys from the American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide free one-on-one consultations to former TVU students. IABA's efforts have helped advance the objectives of the Indian Foreign Ministry and Consulates, which are actively engaged in this issue, by ensuring that students receive fair treatment and appropriate legal assistance. Nearly 20 students received immigration assistance at the offices of the Indian Consulate (Chicago), which helped them understand their legal options and develop better strategies for maintaining valid immigration status.
IABA's efforts were spearheaded by IABA Pro Bono Chair, Tejas Shah, and supported by Lakshmi Lakshmanan, Michael Jarecki, Melissa Chavin, Ana Mencini, Brian Khodolovsky, and Jaclyn Smith. Speaking about the immigration consultations, Tejas Shah noted that "this event represents the best of what IABA has to offer, i.e., the ability to respond rapidly to a crisis, to coordinate with other South Asian associations, and to provide an important public service in collaboration with partner organizations in Chicago."
A former TVU student-beneficiary of IABA's legal assistance shared the following:
Lawyers from the Indian American Bar Association spent quality time with students analyzing student's detail(ed) circumstances and providing realistic legal options on how to deal with current TVU issues. Lawyers provided clear insight about pros and cons of every legal option available to TVU students...This event was indeed very helpful to every TVU student as (it was the) first time students got consultation from multiple lawyers on a (single) platform.
But as IABA's President, Ashwin Janakiram, reminds, "(o)ur work and responsibilities, as a Bar Association, as a community, and as individual attorneys, has only just begun...Former TVU students continue to need help and resources far beyond the bandwidth of a single bar association." Immigration attorneys interested in assisting former TVU students have several options and avenues to make an impact here.
For additional information about assisting former Tri-Valley University students, or to schedule an interview with IABA leadership, please contact Tejas Shah at 312-775-2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE The Indian American Bar Association of Chicago