The number of foreign students arrested in a fake university scandal has jumped to 250 over a period of seven months, according to a Detroit Free Press report.
The arrests conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stem out of University of Farmington, a fake school set up by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 as part of a sting operation to bust foreigners fraudulently enrolling in U.S. schools for visa purposes, as well as recruiters profiting off of registering students in these fake programs.
In January, ICE agents called off the sting by arresting eight recruiters and 130 students who had enrolled in the school.
Most of those who have been arrested are Indian nationals. ICE has already deported most of the students, while a few are contesting their removal, a USA Today report said. One of the students who contested removal was given the permanent resident status by an Immigration judge.
Most of the recruiters have pleaded guilty to charges and have been sentenced in Detroit.
As stated in federal indictments which became unsealed on January 30, the University of Farmington represented a “pay to stay” scheme, which allows “individuals to stay in the United States as a result of foreign citizens falsely asserting that they were enrolled as full-time students in an approved educational program and that they were making normal progress toward completion of the course of study.”
Texas attorney Rahul Reddy, who represented some of the students, said that “vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status” were trapped by the U.S agencies.
However, attorneys’ for ICE and the Department of Justice said that students knew that what they were doing was illegal.
“While ‘enrolled’ at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month for one of the eight recruiters.
“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.”
Earlier Homeland Security agents had created a similar institution, the fake University of Northern New Jersey, to arrest 21 people on charges of student and work visa fraud.