Federal immigration officials created a fake university to lure foreign-born college students who were trying to stay in the U.S. on student visas that might not have been legal. The University of Farmington, a fictitious school that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement marketed as a hub for STEM students who wanted to enroll and not “interrupt their careers,” had a fake name, a fake website and a fake motto on its fake seal. “Scientia et Labor,” the seal said, which means “Knowledge and Work.” In January, eight people who allegedly worked as “recruiters” for the school and collectively helped at least 600 students remain in the U.S. under false pretenses were charged with federal conspiracy. About 250 students, many of them Indian nationals, have been arrested for immigration violations and faced deportation, the Washington Post reports, with the Detroit Free Press.
Nearly 80 percent of those chose to voluntarily leave the U.S. Another 10 percent of the University of Farmington students received a “final removal order,”either from an immigration judge or from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The remaining 10 percent have challenged their deportations. Seven of the eight recruiters, all in their 20s and 30s, have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison time, mostly between one and two years. All eight recruiters will be deported once they have served their sentences. The University of Farmington was created, ICE officials said, to provide the Department of Homeland Security with “first-hand evidence of fraud.”