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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

ICE has arrested about 250 foreign students since January for immigration violations because they enrolled in a fake university created by federal officials that advertises a graduate program for technology and computer studies, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Background: Federal law enforcement officials created the University of Farmington based in the Detroit metro area in January 2016. The school was staffed with undercover agents acting as university officials. DHS even went so far as to have the fake school listed on its own website, as well as on an accreditation agency's site.

  • But the university never offered any actual courses. The government has argued that it was clear to immigrants and recruiters that the school was a sham, as they were never required to participate in any classwork.
  • But many had enrolled through a government program that allows foreign students to work in the U.S. while on student visas.
  • During a similar operation in New Jersey a few years ago, a recruiter explained the lack of classes to students by claiming the start of the semester had been postponed.

The big picture: Similar operations have played out in past administrations as well. Most of the students arrested by ICE came to the U.S. legally on student visas. They enrolled in the fake university to keep their legal visa status, often recruited by other foreign students who were unaware of the sting operation.

  • Most of the immigrants arrested came from India, and were allowed to leave the U.S. voluntarily, rather than face deportation. Foreign students typically return to their home countries after finishing their educations in the U.S., unless they manage to obtain a work visa or other legal visa allowing them to stay.
  • Seven of eight recruiters who helped bring in foreign students, often knowing that the university was a scam but unaware of the government's involvement, have pled guilty to criminal charges and have been sentenced.

Between the lines: Not only does the federal government lure foreign students trying to maintain their legal status to enroll in illegitimate universities, the fake school in Detroit is believed to have collected millions of dollars from students who enrolled.

  • There have been no lawsuits or claims filed against the U.S. government for the operation, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker