ICE: 250 Foreigners Enrolled At Phony Farmington Hills School Arrested

80% of them have already left the country

WWJ News
November 27, 2019 - 3:00 pm
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FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) - A total of around 250 foreigners who federal officials say knowingly enrolled at a phony school in Farmington Hills so they could remain in the U.S. have been arrested. 

That's according federal The Homeland Security Investigations (ICE) Detroit office, which issued a statement to WWJ Newsradio 950 on Wednesday, 

To maintain a student F-1 visa, granted to nonimmigrant students who want to study in the U.S., someone has to be enrolled  in a college and maintain progress toward a degree. If they're not in school, they have to vacate the U.S. within 60 days or otherwise be subject to arrest, detention and removal from the country.

The F-1 nonimmigrant students arrested for immigration violations as part of this operation, which took place nearly a year ago, were not in valid status because they were not enrolled in a full course of study as required by federal regulations, according to ICE.  

The students were initially admitted into the U.S. to attend a legitimate school, but later transferred to the University of Farmington, located on Northwestern Hwy., which was staffed with undercover agents and "offered no academic or vocational programs of any kind," according to ICE.

Since the school did not offer courses or confer degrees, the enrollees were simply using the via program as a pay-to-stay scheme, ICE said. 

Eight people have been criminally charged for their roles in this scheme, the government said, and each has pleaded guilty. 

"Undercover schools provide a unique perspective in understanding the ways in which students and recruiters try to exploit the nonimmigrant student visa system, ICE said, in a statement. "It provides DHS with first-hand evidence of fraud and enhances its understanding of the way in which exploitation networks develop to facilitate fraud.  This, in turn, informs and improves DHS’s efforts to uncover fraud at schools where the students, and potentially school officials, seek to perpetuate violations either explicitly or through more subtle manipulation of the regulations.

"In addition, this type of operation serves as deterrent to potential violators and as a reminder to all nonimmigrant students to be vigilant in complying with the pertinent laws while studying in the United States."

Of the approximately 250 apprehended at the phony school, nearly 80% were granted voluntary departure and left the country, according to ICE. Of the remaining 20%, about half (10%) received a final removal order.  Some of those were ordered removed from the U.S. by an immigration judge and others were given an expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The remaining half (10%) have either filed for some sort relief or are contesting their removals with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.