The Department of Homeland Security is getting creative with their strategies against undocumented immigrants. The Detroit News uncovered a scheme set up by Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in order to catch people using fraudulent paperwork in order to obtain the visa that is required to work or go to school in the U.S.
Yesterday, officials arrested dozens of people nationwide who presented fake paperwork to attend a school that doesn’t exist. The government set up a website for the University of Farmington in Detroit — not an actual school – where people could submit immigration paperwork. Officials also arrested the people that helped the students apply to the school knowing they had fake paperwork.
“These suspects aided hundreds of foreign nationals to remain in the United States illegally by helping to portray them as students, which they most certainly were not,” Steve Francis, an ICE official told the Detroit News.
While this strategy, which began in 2015, is mind-boggling, it’s not illegal.
“It’s creative and it’s not entrapment,” Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor told the publication. “The government can put out the bait, but it’s up to the defendants to fall for it.”
But others see this tactic as a trap and cruel because people from overseas have no way of knowing whether an institution is fake or not. They are merely complying with what is needed in order to attend school. Some of the casualties of this case are actual students who got degrees in other schools though obtained the visas with fake documents.
“If one person called me back and told me it was fake, I would not have gone to the University of Northern New Jersey,” Winona Sun said to The New York Times. Authorities revoked her visa when she tried to return to the country after visiting her family in China. “What else can I do? I don’t know the American system.”
The Detroit News released the names of people who helped people with fake paperwork attend schools. Those individuals include:
Bharath Kakireddy, 29, of Lake Mary, Florida.
Aswanth Nune, 26, of Atlanta.
Suresh Reddy Kandala, 31, of Culpeper, Virginia.
Phanideep Karnati, 35, of Louisville, Kentucky.
Prem Kumar Rampeesa, 26, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Santosh Reddy Sama, 28, of Fremont, California.
Avinash Thakkallapally, 28, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Naveen Prathipati, 29, of Dallas.
Authorities say that these people helped an estimated 600 people from various countries enroll in the fake school under a “pay-to-stay” program that costs roughly $300,000.