About 90 foreign students, mostly from India, of the fake University of Farmington located in Detroit, have been arrested in recent months and a total of about 250 students have now been arrested since January.
The United States Department of Homeland Security created a fake university in 2015 luring international students who wanted to study in the country, in order to have them arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, as reported by the Detroit Free Press on Nov. 27.
About 90 foreign students, mostly from India, of the fake University of Farmington located in Detroit, have been arrested in recent months and a total of about 250 students have now been arrested since January on migration violations by ICE.
"Nearly 80 percent were granted voluntary departure and departed the United States," the Detroit office of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) told the Free Press in a statement Tuesday. The rest have either received a final order of removal or are contesting the decision.
The students had arrived legally in the U.S. on student visas through the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program, which allows students to work in the U.S through an F-1 visa program for foreign students, while others had transferred to the University of Farmington from other schools that had lost accreditation.
However, since the University of Farmington was later revealed to be a creation of federal agents, they lost their immigration status and legal permits after it was shut down in January. Prosecutors allege the students were looking to abuse the student visa program in order to obtain work authorization.
The U.S. "trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal migration) status," Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented or advised some of the students arrested, told the Free Press this week, adding they “preyed upon on them."
The fake university was set up in 2015, and it wasn’t until 2017 that undercover federal officials began posing as university staff, according to the Washington Post.
Based on emails obtained by the Detroit Free Press back in January, the ‘university’ actually charged the students an average of US$12,000 in tuition and fees per year, as it marketed itself as offering graduate programs in technology and computer studies, according to ICE officials.
As there were more than 600 students enrolled at the university, it is estimated the fake school made millions of dollars from unsuspecting migrants. "They made a lot of money," Reddy said of the U.S. government.
In a similar case, in 2013 the created the fake College of Northern New Jersey to entrap students, charging them thousands of dollars in tuition fees and even creating a website and social media accounts for the school to look real. In August, a federal appeals court said foreign-born students may sue the U.S. government over claims it wrongfully canceled their visas.