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Featured Issue: ICE Creates Fake University

DHS’s Farmington operation, known as Paper Chase, began in 2015. The University of Farmington was the second fake university created by DHS; the first was the University of Northern New Jersey. DHS set up a fake website and a facility in a commercial building in Farmington Hills, a suburb of Detroit, and undercover agents from ICE HSI posed as owners and employees. The university claimed to be accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and according to the Washington Post, charged $8,500 a year for undergraduates and $11,000 a year for graduate students in tuition and fees.

In January 2019, DHS charged eight student “recruiters” with participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign citizens stay fraudulently in the United States. Federal agents also arrested 130 students in a nationwide sweep. According to the federal indictment, “The University was not staffed with instructors/educators, it had no curriculum, no actual classes nor any educational activities being conducted therein.” The indictment charged the “recruiters” for having enlisted “hundreds of foreign citizens to enroll at the University” “in exchange for cash, kickbacks, ‘scholarships’ and tuition credits.” In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, ICE HSI said, “HSI Special agents, as part of this undercover operation, made it abundantly clear in their interactions with potential University of Farmington enrollees that the school did not offer academic or vocational programs of any kind.”

DHS continued arresting additional students in the following months, and the number of students arrested on immigration violations eventually rose to 250. ICE HSI told the Detroit Free Press that “nearly 80% [of the students] were granted voluntary departure and departed the United States.” Half of the remaining 20% of the students had either received a final order of removal, ordered removed by an immigration judge, or “given an expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” per ICE HSI Detroit. The remaining 10% “have either filed for some sort of relief or are contesting their removals with Executive Office for Immigration Review,” ICE HSI Detroit told the Detroit Free Press.

In January 2020, the eight students charged with conspiracy were sentenced following prosecution.

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19121308.

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