Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been running a fake college in Michigan for over three years in an effort to catch foreign nationals trying to exploit the student visa program. An indictment, first reported by The Detroit News, reveals arrests of eight student recruiters who conspired to help at least 600 foreign citizens gain illegitimate student visas. The university has no staff and offered no classes, and the accusation by ICE is that all involved were deliberately trying to cheat the system. Many students have also been arrested, and face deportation.
The operation has been running since 2015 and was emphasized by Trump’s administration. It is not entrapment since all involved were intentionally breaking the law. Had ICE posed it as a real university, then intentionally misfiled paperwork, and then arrested the students, that would be entrapment. The biggest accusations are to the eight student recruiters, who face the general charge of Conspiracy to commit visa fraud and to harbor aliens for profit (over $250,000 between the six named on the initial indictment). The university charged $8,500 tuition.
This sort of sting operation is not unprecedented but is rare. The University of Northern New Jersey was a similar operation in 2016 but only charged 21 people. This could end up charging hundred.
On the case, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement first reported by the Detroit News, “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.” Is this a legitimate operation for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be running, or does it overstep the proper role of government, if there is any? Regardless, it is legal, and it almost certainly will hold up in court.