Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used a bogus university to identify and arrest foreign students who wanted to stay in the United States illegally.
The details of the plan were released Wednesday in an unsealed indictment, according to the Detroit Free Press. ICE has arrested eight people in connection with the sting.
The announcement follows another ICE success this week: a New York raid that netted more than 100 illegal immigrants. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Demands Trump Answer For ICE Funding — One Week After Voting To Fund ICE)
The Department of Homeland Security project offered incentives from free tuition to cash payments to foreign students if they would recruit illegal immigrants for the school. They managed to enroll about 600 students in the fake academic institution.
The “University of Farmington” still has a website, but never had any professors or classes. Despite the lean academic environment, the school boasted that it offered a “dynamic business administration and STEM curriculum” for all those interested.
The phony alma mater even invented its own history.
“The University of Farmington traces its lineage back to the early 1950s, when returning soldiers from the Second World War were seeking a quality and marketable education. At the time, Detroit was the center of innovation and manufacturing,” the website reads.
The eight arrested are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring illegal immigrants for profit, according to Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, who told the Free Press that six of the students were found in Detroit. One was discovered in Florida, and the other in Virginia. (RELATED: Report: ICE Drops Off Illegal Immigrants On The Streets Of Texas)
“We are all aware that international students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended international student visa program can also be exploited and abused,” Schneider said in a statement reported by Fox News.
The indictment alleged the students who enrolled “knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress towards an actual degree,” but were only signing on to stay in the U.S.
A student visa entitles a bearer to remain in the country only if they are registered at a legitimate academic institution and studying for a diploma or degree.