from the so-are-you-going-to-start-issuing-tuition-refunds-or-what dept
The sting involved a fictitious university set up by ICE to ensnare foreigners seeking to extend their US stays by complying with the law. That’s the underlying truth that was dismantled by ICE’s fiction. Visitors on student visas are allowed to stay in the country as long as they continue their studies.
ICE’s fake college looked like a legitimate option, seeing as the agency had talked an accreditation agency into giving it the official thumbs-up as a certified education entity. The fake college had an online presence and a physical building. It also had staffing that accepted tuition money before turning applicants in to ICE agents.
ICE netted 250 arrests from this sting, with most duped students opting for voluntary departure. The agency is being sued for its fakery — something it has consistently spun as foreigners bypassing the law to stay in the country. But this is what the law allows them to do and ICE is punishing them for doing it.
Very few of the arrests deal with fraudulent actions by students. Instead, criminal charges have targeted a few middlemen who took cash from visitors on student visas with promises to help them avoid being deported. Out of ICE’s 250 arrests, only eight resulted in criminal charges. The bulk of the sting operation netted nothing more than administrative charges, ending some students’ stay in the country.
ICE insists the US government is the real victim here. The victims of ICE’s scam university aren’t actually victims, according to ICE. They’re actually crafty operators gaming the country’s visa system.
Attorneys for ICE and the Department of Justice maintain that the students should have known it was not a legitimate university because it did not have classes in a physical location.
It’s as if online classes have never existed. This doesn’t actually show intent. It just shows how well the fake university was constructed by ICE — something that looked legitimate until the arrests started. Attorneys we’re paying for are helping ICE play the victim after duping students out of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees before setting them up with deportation.
“Their true intent could not be clearer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month for Rampeesa, one of the eight recruiters, of the hundreds of students enrolled. “While ‘enrolled’ at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the University would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services.”
Most of this simply isn’t true. And what is true isn’t indicative of trustworthy government employees or agencies. As mentioned above, the fake university obtained accreditation from a nationwide service and the DHS’s own website listed the fake university as an option for students in the US on visas.
In addition, students who did wonder about the lack of classes were unable to get any straight answers from the ICE agents posing as college staff. Those that did think this wasn’t legit tried to transfer out. This fact was ignored by ICE, who arrested students transferring out along with those it claims were gaming the visa system by staying enrolled at its fake college.
This ugly incident should be a permanent stain on the agency. Instead, an effort that began during the Obama administration will be portrayed as a victory over thieving foreigners by the DOJ, ICE, and a president who thinks the world will be a better place if everyone else in it stays the hell out of the United States.