ICE Operated a Fake University, Now the Feds Are Charging Some with Immigration Crimes

This week, the Department of Homeland Security revealed an interesting undercover operation. For more than a year, the agency operated a fake university to target foreign students. More specifically, they targeted foreign students who wanted to stay in the US without proper authorization.

Some undercover agents working with the DHS staffed the university. And that led to the feds arresting eight individuals and charging them with the following:

  • conspiracy to commit visa fraud, and
  • harboring undocumented immigrants for profit.

The feds have a very high conviction rate, so things don’t look too good for the defendants.

The indictment says that between February 2017 and January 2019, the defendants “conspired with each other and others to fraudulently facilitate hundreds of foreign nationals in illegally remaining and working in the United States by actively recruiting them to enroll into a … private university that, unbeknownst to the conspirators, was operated by [a US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) ].”

But what about the students? Let’s not forget the students.

Prosecutors didn’t forget about them. Prosecutors said students enrolled at the fake university to obtain jobs under a student-visa program. The indictment alleges the students who enrolled “knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress toward an actual degree.”

These students, according to ICE, came legally to the US to study at legitimate universities. After entering the US, they transferred to the fake university to work.

It’s hard to imagine the students will face anything but a difficult immigration road ahead.

The Takeaway

Many people wonder whether the government will discover if they lie about or misrepresent this or that. Many wonder will know that they–short of telling a lie–are leaving out some important information. To a large extent, the answer depends on the government’s level of interest in the information omitted or lied about.

It is safe to say that the government is quite interested in whether someone who attained a student visa works impermissibly. And it is safe to say that the government is quite interested in whether someone with a student visa has misrepresented his intention to study.