Students face deportation as feds investigate college

October 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
ABC7 first reported on Tri-Valley University back in January. Federal agents raided it and shut it down, claiming it was a front for illegal immigration. As the feds continue to build their case, hundreds of the university's students are caught in the middle facing deportation.

These students invested their time, money, and futures in Tri-Valley University. The Pleasanton campus shut down January 19th after ICE agents raided the school, calling it a sham university which acted as a front for illegal immigration.

"I was working hard too," said Rajesh Damera, a student.

Damera expected to graduate from Tri-Valley in May 2012. Instead, he and hundreds of other international students are facing deportation. All of the student visas the school issued are now invalid. Applications for a review are due Wednesday. If the requests are denied, the students will have to leave the country immediately.

"It's a big blow. I mean, I was expecting my life to be somewhere else and this is in the gutter now," said Damera.

Before the feds will even consider reviewing the application, students have to show Tri-Valley transcripts, book receipts, and even ID, for the spring 2011 semester. But the school closed in January.

Kalpana Peddibhotla is representing 22 Tri-Valley students. She blames federal agencies for falling short on oversight.

"Why wasn't anybody aware the school had grown so quickly and exceeded its charter and why wasn't anybody there to investigate how that could be possible?" said Peddibhotla.

"If it's not a good university how can I get a visa stamp based on Tri-Valley?" said "Tejal", a student.

ICE starting investigating Tri-Valley months before the raid and it didn't take Tri-Valley off its list of approved universities for international students until late March, which meant students kept enrolling. An ICE spokesperson told ABC7 the list couldn't change until the school had its chance to contest the accusations.