The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested 250 students using a fake university in Detroit to lure foreign exchange students into applying before being deported.
USA Today reports the Department of Homeland Security used a fake college, named the University of Farmington, to entice mostly India-born students to enroll in technology graduate programs. Instead of meeting with real guidance counselors and admission aids, they met federal agents posing as college officials. The scheme was code-named "Paper Chase.”
The targeted students entered the United States legally, according to the Detroit Free Press, on student visas. Having already received degrees from other universities, many of the students were able to extend their education through Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs, which extended their stay in the country.
In order to remain in the U.S., foregin students are required to be enrolled full-time at a federally accredited educational institution. They were deported because the university, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, was fake.
Approximately 80% of students were deported, while the other 20% are fighting for citizenship after receiving a final order of removal.
The students’ attorneys claim entrapment against ICE, saying the faux university’s website bragged of its legitimacy, including a real national accreditation agency listing the school amongst its accredited universities, according to Mic.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs revealed the University of Farmington was founded in January 2016.
Rahul Reddy, a Texas lawyer who represented the arrested students, blasted the U.S. government for their secret plot, telling the Free Press how they “trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status.They preyed upon on them."
The university also “made a lot of money,” according to Reddy. The unsuspecting students paid graduate programs' tuition of $2,500 per quarter, in addition to a $100 application fee and $1,000 monthly fees.
Seven of the eight recruiters who were criminally charged for trying to recruit students have pleaded guilty. Those recruiters are also believed to have pocketed as much as $250,000. It’s unclear exactly how ICE was using the tuition and fees paid by the students.
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