An Immigration and Customs Enforcement hunting ground masked as a university with no real students, teachers, or classes has led to 90 additional arrests in the last few months, for a total of 250 on immigration violations since January. ICE officials, who charged tuition for the fake Michigan school and posed as university officials, say most of the students who attended the so-called University of Farmington are from India. Ravi Mannam, an Atlanta-based immigration lawyer, called the undercover ICE operation “very questionable,” saying it used “troubling methods to get these foreign students to join the institution,” according to The New York Times. Texas attorney Rahul Reddy, who represented some of the students, told the Detroit Free Press that the undercover operation “trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status,” and that the U.S. government “made a lot of money” from the fake university. The Farmington Hills school, which cost students annually about $12,000 in tuition and fees, was advertised as a “nationally accredited business and STEM institution.”
Eight people were arrested and indicted for helping at least 600 “foreign citizens to illegally remain, re-enter and work in the United States and actively recruited them to enroll in a fraudulent school as part of a ‘pay to stay’ scheme,” according to the indictment filed Jan. 15. Seven of the recruiters have pleaded guilty, while one awaits sentencing in January. ICE officials claim that the students knew that they were enrolling in a fake school and did so because they thought the program could help them extend their student visas in order to remain in the United States.