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Dec 05, 2019 09:24 AM EST

Homeland Security Arrests 250 Foreign Students Enrolled in 'Fake University'

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Over the past few months, the Department of Homeland Security has arrested 90 more students for immigration violations while attending a fake university in Detroit. Many of the students have already been deported. Since the beginning of this year, a total of 250 foreign students have been arrested for the same offense.

The University of Farmington has been 'the bait' made by federal agents. The duped students had student visas to enter the country. The school was shut down in January, which meant that the students breached their visas at that time.

Seven of the eight recruiters from the university who have been charged with criminal offenses have pleaded guilty. The university was founded a few years ago and only had 600 students enrolled. The fake university was heavily marketed to potential Indian students and promoted graduate programs in engineering and computer science.

As part of a sting operation to arrest and prosecute people committing visa and immigration fraud, the Department of Homeland Security set up the university. Officials of the ICE told the media that nearly 80% of the 250 students were voluntarily departed and left the United States after being caught. The other 20% had received official deportation orders and still appealing in court to stay in the United States.

The grand jury's indictment brought against six of the people claimed that the university was being used by foreign citizens as a "pay to remain" scheme, which allowed such individuals to live in the US as a result of foreign citizens falsely claiming to be enrolled as full-time students in an authorized educational program.

In 2015, as part of a wider crackdown on illegal immigration and visa fraud, federal authorities created the university as a component of "Operation Paper Chase."

The Feds created a website with a ".edu" address and social media accounts marketing the school as an accredited institution paying $8,500 in tuition per year, but it did not have a physical classroom or campus and was not approved.

The Free Press said it received emails showing that students charged the fake university an average of about $12,000 in tuition fees and other charges, which means the government is likely to make millions of dollars in the operation.

Many opponents and immigration advocates have accused the government's plan of arbitrarily targeting and setting up foreign students only trying to work lawfully in the US, but officials insist that almost all the students detained in the sting knew the college was a fake.

The federal authorities also noted that while "enrolled" at the fake university, 100% of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were really about getting an education, the university would not have been able to attract anyone because there were no teachers, classes or educational services, they further explained.

Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University, said in January to The Detroit News that it is a unique idea, and it's not an entrapment. The prosecution can put the bait out, but it's up to the defendants to fall for it, he added.

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