Immigration and Customs Enforcement released undercover footage on Friday in response to media reports that claimed ICE established a fake college — the University of Farmington — to lure foreign students into committing visa fraud.
The undercover video shows foreign students discuss enrolling at the fake university. Numerous individuals admit they want to enroll in order to keep their visa status, despite officials telling the students that the school does not offer classes.
In each instance, the individual admits they know they are engaging in illegal activity.
In a statement, acting ICE Director Derek Brenner said:
The individuals who enrolled at Farmington, knowingly and willfully violated their nonimmigrant visa status and consequently were subject to removal from the United States.
These individuals were not new to the U.S. student visa system; they were familiar with its requirements and their obligations. They secured visas to enroll in another U.S. school, and were already in the United States when they transferred to Farmington. In addition, prior to enrolling at Farmington, each prospective enrollee was informed that there were no classes, curriculum or teachers at Farmington. Despite this, individuals enrolled because they saw an opportunity to avoid any academic requirements and, instead, work full-time, which was a violation of their nonimmigrant status. Evidence, including video footage, audio recordings, and correspondence collected during the investigation supports that each prospective enrollee knowingly and willfully violated their nonimmigrant status.
The undercover video directly rebuts claims that ICE agents unethically entrapped foreign nationals into committing visa fraud.
Critics of the program argued many of the students caught in the scheme were legitimate students who believed Farmington was a legitimate school.
Farmington, which was established during the Obama administration, was an elaborate sting operation specifically set up to catch foreign nationals seeking to commit visa fraud.
Watch the undercover video footage here.