DHS created a fake university near Detroit as part of a sting operation targeting foreign students — and around 250 have been arrested so far

DHS created a fake university near Detroit as part of a sting operation targeting foreign students — and around 250 have been arrested so far
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan Department of Homeland Security, speaks with United States Customs and Border Protection officers along the border area of Otay Mesa, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, Calif. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Human Rights

Complaints from immigrant groups about the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) didn’t start with President Donald Trump: there were plenty of deportations under former President Barack Obama, who some Latino activists called El Rey de las Deporaciones (the King of Deportations). But Trump’s immigration policy has been especially draconian, and the Detroit Free Press is reporting that around 250 immigrant students altogether have been arrested by ICE agents thanks to a fake university that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set up as a sting operation.

The Free Press’ Niraj Warikoo reports that the University of Farmington was “revealed to be a creation of federal agents” that targeted foreign students. DHS set up a fake campus in Farmington Hills, Michigan — a Detroit suburb — and made it look like a real college.

The University of Farmington, records show, was incorporated in January 2016. Obama was still president at the time, and the sting operation at the University of Farmington accelerated after Trump took office a year later. When the University of Farmington was shut down in January, many of its students who had come to the U.S. legally on student visas lost their immigration status.

Warikoo reports, “Attorneys for the students arrested said they were unfairly trapped by the U.S. government since the Department of Homeland Security had said on its website that the university was legitimate. An accreditation agency that was working with the U.S. on its sting operation also listed the university as legitimate.”

Rahul Reddy, a Texas-based attorney who has represented some of the students who were arrested, told the Detroit Free Press that DHS “trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status. They preyed on them.”

According to Reddy, the U.S. government “made a lot of money” from the University of Farmington’s tuition and fees. Tuition and fees ran about $12,000 per year.

Warikoo notes that many of the students who enrolled at the University of Farmington did so “through a program known as Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which allows students to work in the U.S through a F-1 visa program for foreign students. Some had transferred to the University of Farmington from other schools that had lost accreditation, which means they would no longer be in immigration status and allowed to remain in the U.S.”

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