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Past imperfect, future tense

world Updated: Feb 05, 2011 23:41 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

They didn’t trust strangers, didn’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers and were startled by the slightest sound outside the door. And then, they found each other, joined by the same cause: how to survive.

“Does anyone know a good immigration lawyer,” went out a plea on an online group formed by students of the disgraced Tri-Valley University. a torrent of offers followed.

“Hi all, if anybody (knows) any lawyer in Maryland please give me details how much they are charging,” went another request. Well, replied a fellow TVU student, “you have the best in the land, but she is expensive.”

Indian students of the Tri-Valley University in California shut down by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department on January 20 have formed an online support group to fend for themselves and each other.

They have some support from such organisations as the Telugu Association of North America -- most students are from Andhra Pradesh -- and the Indian embassy and its consulates but they are largely on their own.

Hindustan Times was allowed into this closed world for a couple of hours one day recently till some members -- students of Tri-Valley -- decided they didn’t want the media meddling around. As a group they don’t trust the media.

Individually, they court it. Sunil G (not his real name) is one of them. “I didn’t even talk to you till today. Well just fyi I was live with .... yesterday from USA. I have some shocking news, which can be broadcasted (sic) live. If interested call me on ...”

There are no leaders in this movement. They all want to just survive: some want to do it with prayers, others by leveraging the plight of others they claim to help.

“Has anyone been interviewed by ICE,” went another plea. That’s their biggest dread: getting a call or a visit from ICE. They know it’s an eventuality they can’t avoid. They will at some stage or the other speak to ICE agents, over phone or email. But they still dread it. “What did they ask?” It’s like another exam for some.