US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests 90 students at ‘fake’ university in Michigan

By Anurag Mallick  Published on  28 Nov 2019 9:19 AM GMT
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests 90 students at ‘fake’ university in Michigan

Hyderabad: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested around 250 students since January as part of a sting operation concerning immigration violation. The students who are reportedly foreign-born are mostly from India and attended the University of Farmington in Michigan, which offers graduate programmes in technology and computer studies.

The officials have deported many of the arrested students to India, while others are contesting their removal. An immigration judge has granted lawful permanent resident status to one among the arrested.

The students had arrived legally through student visas but later lost their immigration status as the University of Farmington located in Farmington Hills revealed to be a fake university. ICE had established the fake institution under the aegis of Homeland Security and deployed undercover agents as university officials.

Out of the 250 students arrested on administrative charges, around 80% of the students were granted voluntary departure, and they opted for it. Out of the remaining 20%, half of them received a final order whereas few of them were ordered removed by an immigration judge. US Customs and Border Protection gave others an expedited removal, said Homeland Security Investigations in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement further read, “The remaining 10% have either filed for some form of relief or are contesting their removals with Executive Office for immigration review.”

Along with 250 students, investigators have criminally charged seven of the eight recruiters for trying to enrol students. They have pleaded guilty, and the authorities have sentenced them in Detroit. One of them was identified as Prem Rampeesa (27).

The attorneys for the arrested students said that they were unfairly trapped as the Department of Homeland Security reported that the university was legitimate in its website. Besides, an accreditation agency working with the US on the sting operation also listed the university as legal.

Around 600 students were enrolled in the university through a programme known as Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The plan allows to work in the US through an F1 visa for international students.

The Detroit ICE spokesperson, Khaalid Walls revealed the other recruiters as Barath Kakireddy (Florida, sentenced for 18 months); Suresh Kandala (Virginia, for 18 months); Santosh Sama (California, for 24 months); Avinash Thakkallapally (Pennsylvania, for 15 months); Aswanth Nune (Georgia, for 12 months); Naveen Pratipathi (Texas, for 12 months). Phanideep Karnati (Kentucky) is to be sentenced in January.

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