A sting operation set up in 2015 has resulted in dozens of arrests on Wednesday after recruiters and illegal immigrants were uncovered by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The undercover operation, which was named “Paper Chase,” involved ICE setting up a “fake university” in order to lure undocumented immigrants and recruiters in. The entire process involved a fake university in Farmington Hills, just outside Detroit, and ICE agents working undercover at the college, according to the Washington Post.
While the U.S. is generally open to foreigners using their education system to achieve a university degree or even a diploma, it’s a lengthy process that requires certain visa documentation and guarantees that the student is on the path to complete their qualification.
The premise of the fake Farmington Hills University was to trap recruiters who were finding undocumented immigrants to give them fake paperwork that would allow them to stay in the U.S. illegally by pretending to be students.
Farmington Hills University has no staff, no students, and no classes for its non-existent student base, which was known to both the recruiters and the “students” who were using it to get their paperwork. The entire “university” was located inside an office building.
The university in the suburbs of Detroit was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland Security designed to expose immigration fraud, according to federal prosecutors https://t.co/gF9IXS6luu
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2019
The university was advertised publicly as a “nationally accredited business and STEM institution located in metro Detroit.” Of course, to add to the whole illusion, Homeland set up an entire website for the fake college, complete with social media accounts that were kept active with regular posts. They have all since been taken down.
Documents about the sting operation were unsealed on Wednesday, and they revealed that “the university was being used by foreign citizens as a ‘pay to stay’ scheme which allowed these individuals to stay in the United States as a result of foreign citizens falsely asserting that they were enrolled as full-time students in an approved educational program and that they were making normal progress toward completion of the course of study.”
As a result of the case, eight recruiters have been charged for “participating in a conspiracy for helping as many as 600 foreign nationals remain in the U.S. illegally.” According to the court documents, they were being paid large sums of money, in some instances as much as a quarter of a million dollars, for their services.
Along with the recruiters, dozens of students, mostly Indian nationals, have been arrested for immigration violations as well. If found guilty, they could be facing deportation.