Many court documents show the complexity of a scheme set in place by the United States Government to entrap 161 immigrant students.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) claims that the students were aware of the fact that the university was fake.
The website of the Farmington University described a learning institution that was going to prepare students in order to make it in an “economy that is constantly progressing”. Students arrived at the University willing to find out more about the classes they could take.
The U.S. Government gave the Farmington University permission to enroll foreign students. The president of the university sent an email to students, describing the university as being a “nationally accredited university to enroll foreign students”.
But, everything turned out to be fake, in order to entrap immigrant students.
Court documents that were made public last month revealed the a Hollywood worthy scheme created by the Homeland Security in order to create a fake university – without classes or teachers – just with a team of under cover agents who built a case file that resulted in the arrest of 161 foreign nationals.
“They are students who are trying to improve their lives here, they are not criminals, they are not people who take advantage of the system” Amer Zahr said, law professor at the Detroit-Mercy university.
Najilaa Krim Musarsa, a 29 years old woman from Palestine is one of the people who were arrested without due process for violating civil immigration because she enrolled at the fake university, which was located near Detroit, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Other 8 people were criminally charged because they helped foreign students enroll in exchange for cash, commissions or tuition loans.
Civil rights lawyers and advocates underline that there is a big difference between the 8 charged for criminal offenses and the students arrested for violating the civil code.
“Everybody was taken by surprise” Zahr said. ” There was no warning about this. Musarsa was not notified that she lost her immigrant status and that the university was fake” Zahr added.
Most of the students were Indians and the Indian Government initiated a rare action at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, requesting immediate access to Indian citizens arrested in the U.S. Starting with february 5, Indian officials visited 36 detention centers in the United States and created a 24/7 hotline for students that were affected.
Since the charges were brought, ICE claimed that each of the 600 students enrolled at the Farmington university knew they were not going to attend real classes and will not get credits. “Their intention was to keep their student visas fraudulently and to get a green card” the file says.
The under cover operation was headed by the Homeland Security Investigations ( HSI ), a branch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ).
This is not the first fake university created by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. In 2016, ICE announced that the North New Jersey University was not a real college and its employees were undercover agents. At that time the U.S. Government claimed that more than 1000 students were aware of the fact that they were committing fraud.