The University of Farmington was a sting operation established by ICE officials in order to find "first-hand evidence" of how foreign students abuse the US immigration system.
Surprise, surprise. ICE acted unethically. 10 months ago, unsealed federal government documents revealed that the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency opened The University of Farmington, a fake university established with the intention of luring foreign-born students to take their money and then deport them. After the students were enrolled in the fake university, ICE agents arrested them. The arrests, 250 of them in total, took place between January and July this year. While several students — many of them Indian nationals — chose to voluntarily leave the United States, others were issued "final removal orders." Several other students have chosen to stay and take ICE to court, The Washington Post reports. Though numerous students have faced legal punishment, no ICE officials or agents have had to do so.
This story is WILD— Lis Power (@LisPower1) November 27, 2019
ICE created a fake university, then:
- enticed foreign-born students to attend
- charged them money
- arrested them
- deported them
Students had come legally on student visas, but since the school was fake the visas weren't valid https://t.co/N39KWZTFV0
According to ICE officials, the university was created in order to provide the Department of Homeland Security with "first-hand evidence of fraud." In a statement, the agency claimed, "Undercover schools provide a unique perspective in understanding the ways in which students and recruiters try to exploit the non-immigrant student visa system." Allegedly, students who feared deportation but wished to continue staying in the United States utilized a loophole in immigration law. By enrolling in the fake university, they were able to remain in the country and extend their student visas.
One student was granted lawful permanent resident status by an immigration judge, but the majority of the students involved have already been deported through "voluntary departure." Meanwhile, ten percent of the group of students was "given an expedited removal" by United States Customs and Border Protection. Meanwhile, 20 percent of these students are currently fighting legal battles to remain in the United States. They argue that the government agency entrapped them. Though ICE contends that this was simply a way to provide "first-hand evidence," there is no doubt that this was predatory behavior. As per Texas attorney Rahul Reddy, who is involved in these students' cases, the fake University of Farmington operation was a way to prey on unsuspecting students. "They should not punish these people who were lured into a trap," he stated. "These people can’t even defend themselves properly because they’re not given the same rights in deportation proceedings."
Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Helms, with regard to a particular student's case, argued in a sentencing memo, "Their true intent could not be clearer. 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." Regardless, there is no doubt that foreign-born students, burdened by an oppressive immigration system and searching for an opportunity in the land of the American dream, would have opted to join the fake university under immense pressure. ICE acted on predatory grounds and targeted vulnerable individuals in one of the biggest scams ever. Despite this, ICE and its officials are yet to face any consequences.