Every year, many students from all around the world seek student visas in order to enter and study in the United States for a designated period of time.
In an effort to lure foreign students who they “believed were trying to stay in the country illegally,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set up a fake university in Michigan called the University of Farmington.
The fake university admitted students and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in tuition but never held actual classes. In order to maintain valid student status and keep their visas, foreign students must remain enrolled in their programs while in the United States.
ICE recruited hundreds of these students to their fake university in Michigan and then arrested them for being enrolled in a fake university.
According to the Detroit Free Press, “About 600 students, mostly from India, were enrolled at the university in Farmington Hills, a majority of them in master’s degree programs in engineering or computer-related fields. The students had arrived in the U.S. legally through approved student visas and didn’t have criminal records.”
DHS argues that the students it lured had an objective of committing immigration fraud and that students should have realized no classes were actually held. The problem with this argument is that many students were apprehensive and tried to contact the university and figure out what was happening. They, however, were not told the truth by the school administrators, who were in fact undercover government agents.
As of November 2019, about 250 students have been arrested for immigration violations by ICE. Many of these students were placed in removal proceedings and granted voluntary departure.
To date, we are not aware of any lawsuits filed against the U.S. government for collecting the money or entrapping the students.