ICE Created A Fake University, Collected Thousands From Undocumented Students And Then Deported Them
"They preyed upon on them," attorney Rahul Reddy said regarding the mistreatment of the foreign students.
A sting operation carried out by ICE officials has resulted in the arrest of nearly 250 students since January after a fake university was used to expose those in the country on student visas. The affected students have either been deported or are currently appealing their arrest.
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According to the Detroit Free Press, the University of Farmington was a falsified university staffed by undercover immigration officials, and following a shutdown of its operation in January, its website has also been taken down by Homeland Security officials.
The government alleges that the school was used in a "pay to stay" scheme that allowed students to live and work in the country by misusing the Visa system.
"Their true intent could not be clearer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month obtained by the Detroit Free Press. "While 'enrolled' at the university, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the university would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services."
According to the Detroit Free Press, the students' lawyers argued that the students had no way of knowing that the institution was illegitimate, with the university website, officials and an accreditation agency all communicating that the school was legitimate.
"[They] trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain [legal immigration] status," Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented or advised some of the students who had been arrested, told the Free Press this week. "They preyed upon on them."
The university is believed to have collected millions from the unsuspecting students since being set up in 2015, with graduate programs being listed at $12,000 per year.
At this time, there is no lawsuit or official claim against the U.S. government for either collecting the money or entrapping the students involved.