A Canadian parliamentary committee has voted unanimously to urge the country’s border services agency to stop the deportation of over 700 Indian students, PTI reported on Thursday.

The students are facing deportation from Canada after authorities in the country found that their admission offer letters to the educational institutions they were studying in were fake.

The students had gone to Canada in 2018-’19 on a study visa. After completing their studies, they received work permits in the country. However, the admission offer letters were found to be fake after they applied for permanent residency in the North American country.

These students have been holding a protest in Canada’s Mississauga city since May 29. The protest was triggered after Canadian authorities asked one of the students to leave the country by June 13.

On Wednesday, the all-party immigration committee urged the border agency to allow the students to find permanent residence on humanitarian grounds or through a regularisation programme, reported the Toronto Star.

New Democratic Party MP Jenny Kwan said that the students are victims of fraud and should not be penalised.

“These students, I have met with many of them, now are just in such a terrible state,” Kwan said. “They have lost money and they are stuck in a terrible situation. And some of them have deportation orders. Others have pending meetings with CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency].”

Liberal MP Shafqat Ali said that the Canadian government needs to have empathy for the students, according to the Toronto Star.

“We should not exploit the situation and play politics on this issue of those innocent students,” he said. “They have gone through and are going through a lot.”

The members of the committee also voted to hold two meetings to examine the “targeted exploitation” faced by the students, according to the newspaper.

The committee has also decided to ask Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and their staff to appear before it to provide a briefing on the situation.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that his government is aware of the incident.

“To be clear, our focus is on identifying the culprits, not penalising the victims,” he said, according to PTI. “Victims of fraud will have an opportunity to demonstrate their situations and present evidence to support their cases.”

He added: “We recognise the immense contributions international students bring to our country and we remain committed to supporting victims of fraud as we evaluate each case.”

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