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ICE releases secretly recorded footage to defend fake university

ICE is trying to prove the students tried to 'exploit the student visa system.'


Samira Sadeque


Posted on Dec 31, 2019   Updated on May 19, 2021, 7:08 pm CDT

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not regret creating a fake university in order to lure foreign students in and then arrest them after receiving backlash in November. In fact, the agency is doubling-down on its decision to do so.

ICE recently deported about 250 students who enrolled at the University of Farmington, which was created as a ruse by ICE in 2015. 

In a recent letter published to its website, ICE Acting Deputy Director Derek Benner defended its sting operation and said, “Undercover investigations like this one provide law enforcement an inside look into how these networks operate, which was the primary purpose in establishing Farmington. The investigation provided HSI with a better understanding of how recruiters and others abuse the nonimmigrant student visa system.”  

On Sunday, ICE tweeted a video, which appears to have been secretly recorded, to prove that the students tried to “exploit the student visa system.” One exchange in the video shows an undercover worker asking the prospective students if they knew the program was not legal.

“I don’t have any classes to give you,” the agent says. “You know it’s not legal right? So it has to kind of stay between us, right?” 

The student agrees.

“The individuals who enrolled at Farmington, knowingly and willfully violated their nonimmigrant visa status and consequently were subject to removal from the United States,” ICE tweeted.

In early December, Vance Callender, a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said these sting operations showed how people “exploit the non-immigrant student visa system.”

But many expressed anger over ICE’s operation, saying the agency only created a fake university in order to deport people and make money in the process, as it didn’t return any of the “tuition money” it had received.  


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*First Published: Dec 31, 2019, 4:04 pm CST