"U of Farmington" Fraudsters Prosecuted, Deported

"U of Farmington" Fraudsters Prosecuted, Deported
Susan Dutca-Lovell

The U.S. government set up a fake Michigan university as part of a sting operation to catch visa fraudsters. Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) secretly established the University of Farmington, enrolling more than 600 students studying science and technology in a "pay to stay” scheme. As a result, roughly 250 students have been arrested on immigration violations.

After the U.S. Department of Education revoked recognition for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in December 2019, international students at those unaccredited, participating institutions subsequently enrolled at Farmington. The students, all citizens of India, then began recruiting friends and collecting commissions from the herefake university, according to Inside Higher Education. Seven of the eight recruiters who have been criminally charged with attempting to recruit students pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

Government officials state that, while the university touted a "dynamic business administration and STEM curriculum program," the students, "knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress towards an actual degree." Furthermore, they "should have known" it was not a legitimate university because it did not have a physical location. Despite having this knowledge, the enrollees remained enrolled for about 18 months, never once attending class. Therefore, they "violated the terms of their non-immigrant status in the U.S. by using the F-1 program as a pay-to-stay scheme." Many of the arrested students have since been deported, but some are contesting their removals.

The Farmington operation began in 2015, under the Obama administration and was prosecuted under the Trump administration. Do you support this operation to fight immigration visa fraud? Why or why not?

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