The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has arrested 90 additional foreign-born students in recent months in a sting operation at a fake Michigan university designed to draw in students who are trying to stay in the U.S. illegally, according to a new report.
The University of Farmington advertised a “dynamic business administration and STEM curriculum” program, but the students, mostly from India, “knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress towards an actual degree,” according to a January indictment.
A total of about 250 students have been arrested since the school opened in January on immigration violations by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration lawyers said in March — after 161 students were arrested — that the students did not know it was a fake university at the time.
The university in Farmington Hills, Mich., has reportedly been operated by Homeland Security since 2015.
The U.S. “trapped vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status,” Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented some of the students who were arrested, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday.
Many of the arrested students have been deported, but some are contesting their removals.
The students had reportedly arrived legally in the U.S. on student visas and later lost their immigration status after the school was shut down in January, according to the Free Press.
Meanwhile, seven of the eight recruiters who were criminally charged with trying to recruit students have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in Detroit. The final defendant will be sentenced in January.
Attorneys for ICE and the Department of Justice said the students should have known it was not a legitimate university because it did not have classes in any sort of physical location, the Free Press reported.
“Their true intent could not be clearer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a memo, per the publication. “While ‘enrolled’ at the university,  percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom.”
“If it were truly about obtaining an education, the university would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes or educational services,” he added.