The Department of Homeland Security's fake university sting operation that has outraged many Democrats was launched in 2015 under the Obama administration.
On Wednesday, news broke that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had arrested 250 foreign-born students since January who had enrolled in a fake university set up by the government in metro Detroit.
Eight recruiters who helped bring in the foreign students, knowing the institution was a sham but unaware that the government was involved, were also arrested. Seven of them have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
The arrests — which have resulted in voluntary departures, fraud charges, and deportations — were part of a sting operation by the Department of Homeland Security that enticed foreign-born students, primarily from India, to attend the fake University of Farmington, which purported to offer graduate classes in technology and computer studies, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Cue the outrage
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called the operation "cruel and appalling," arguing that ICE "deceived and trapped" the students who were "simply dream[ing] of getting the high quality education America can offer."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also joined the chorus of outrage, calling for ICE to be abolished in response to the news.
Outspoken actress Alyssa Milano also reacted to the news.
What's the background?
Criticism of ICE and America's immigration enforcement policies, in general, has picked up steam since President Trump's election in 2016. The movement to "Abolish ICE" was embraced by democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez during the 2018 midterm elections, and later became more widely accepted by some of the Democratic Party's more progressive candidates, Warren included.
Renewed hostility toward ICE was due in large part to resistance to President Trump's zero tolerance policy at the border which criminally prosecuted all border crossings, at times resulting in children being separated from their families as their parents were sent to jail.
Trump has since ended the practice of separating children from their families at the border, but, predictably, opposition to any immigration enforcement has persisted from left-wing politicians who ultimately prefer open border policies.
The operation was started in 2015 under Obama
It's worth noting, however, that President Trump did not order the fake university sting operation, which began in 2015 under the Obama administration, according to court documents.
The University of Farmington sting operation is not the only one of its kind started under the Obama administration, either. The DHS and ICE also created a fake university to catch visa fraudsters in New Jersey starting in 2013.
Regarding the operation in Michigan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms said the arrested students and recruiters knew exactly what they were doing.
"Their true intent could not be clearer," Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month, according to the Detroit Free Press. "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."