DHS operated fake university in Michigan to apprehend undocumented immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it operated a fake university in Michigan to target students who were undocumented immigrants, according to federal indictments unsealed on Wednesday.

The documents, reported by The Detroit Free Press, stated that eight people were arrested and indicted for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring undocumented immigrants for profit.

Six people were arrested in Detroit, while the other two were taken into custody in Florida and Virginia, the Free Press reported. Prosecutors said students enrolled at the fake university to obtain jobs under a student visa program called curricular practical training.{mosads}

The indictment said the defendants aided at least 600 undocumented immigrants in illegally remaining, reentering and working in the U.S. as part of a “pay to stay” scheme.

According to the filing, the defendants were taken into custody after facilitating the enrollment of students into a “metro Detroit private university that, unbeknownst to the conspirators, was operated by HSI (Homeland Security Investigation) special agents as part of an undercover operation.”

“We are all aware that international students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended international student visa program can also be exploited and abused,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement announcing the unsealed indictments.

The university, dubbed the “University of Farmington,” had a website touting its credentials and “dynamic business administration and STEM curriculum.”

DHS did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Hill.

The indictment alleges that students who enrolled “knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress towards an actual degree,” but enrolled only to remain in the country.

Students visas allow individuals to remain in the U.S. if they are enrolled and maintaining progress toward a degree, otherwise they must leave within 60 days.

Immigration attorney Rahul Reddy told the Free Press that students enrolled at the university have already been detained in cities across the country.

HSI has been probing the university’s dealings since 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

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