Reason Roundup

University of ICE? Fake College Targeted Immigrants and Encouraged Visa Fraud: Reason Roundup

Plus: No, Virginia isn't making it legal to kill babies during labor, and why Millennials and Gen Z will rule 2020

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screenshot of Farmington U website

Federal agents are going to dramatic lengths to find immigrants trying to game the student visa system. "For years, the Department of Homeland Security has operated a fake university in the Detroit suburbs as part of an undercover operation that lured undocumented immigrants," The Daily Beast reports.

The Homeland Security-run "University of Farmington"—first revealed by The Detroit News—ran from 2015 until recently and "intensified one month into President Donald Trump's tenure as part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration," the News says. The school offered immigrants on student visas a way to maintain their student status (and associated work permit) without actually doing any coursework.

As a result, eight people were indicted for "conspiracy to commit visa fraud" and "dozens" of University of Farmington students were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Most of those arrested are from India and now face deportation.

As with FBI-led terror and drug plots, the scheme raises questions. The fake school gave legal immigrants with expiring student visas a simple way to stay here, by paying tuition at what was listed as an accredited university. It's not at all clear that those scammed knew the school was a total sham, knew that enrolling there wasn't legitimate for visa purposes, or would have engaged in any fraud had the feds not provided the opportunity.

"The university had a professional website, a red-and-blue coat of arms, a Latin slogan meaning 'knowledge and work' and a physical location at a commercial building on Northwestern Highway," The Detroit News reports.

Federal agents deployed several tactics to make the University of Farmington appear to be a legitimate school. The main photo of University of Farmington students on the school's website is nearly identical to a commercially available picture on the stock photograph website Shutterstock.

The University of Farmington has its own Facebook page, too, with a calendar of events, including one scheduled for next week with non-existent university officials.

ICE has also been telling immigrants to show up for court hearings or risk being deported. But the alleged hearings aren't actually scheduled. "Immigrants were instructed to appear on weekends, midnight, and dates that just didn't exist, like Sept. 31," reports CBS News.

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