Hell Frozen Over: How ICE used Farmington Hills to curb White-Collar Illegal Immigration

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Amid arguments, complaining, bickering, a record length total shutdown of all non-essential services from the government, and other childish antics from the elected representatives of the most economically and militarily powerful nation on this planet, all over a wall which some argue is racist because Mexicans should apparently be given honorary American citizenship, or because borders are just social constructs, something almost sneaked by without notice. I say almost, because of course The New York Times had to rush to cover the story when it was found that a great deal of ‘victims’ (and I use that term with as much sarcasm as I can muster) of what I speak of, happened to be Indian and Chinese.

What I am here today to write to you about is the curious case of The University Farmington, a school in Michigan that was actually anything but.

The University in question was actually an elaborate undercover sting operation executed by the likes of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to catch students attempting to exploit a loophole of student visa extension. You see, despite all claims of Farmington U being accredited, having tuition prices, courses and the like clearly listed on their website, no actual staff or faculty existed. Farmington was a skeleton school, a sham built to enable what is colloquially referred to as “Pay to Stay”. Students who came over on visa or who wanted to work in the US on a student visa would enroll in Farmington, knowing full well that there were no classes to attend, no credits to earn, and that they would gain no diploma to hang on their wall.

What they did get, however, was the ability to stay in the U.S. longer while they worked and enjoyed the benefits of America unjustly, depriving others of the opportunity while paying for a fake education. At least, they did right up until the DHS pulled the plug on the sting, and with it, the rug out from under the feet of some six-hundred ‘students’.

Some are attempting, of course, to call this entrapment, and I am hesitant to agree. There are some cases, I am sure, where entrapment could be a valid claim, especially for any new recruits who actually went in without knowing any better, but one cannot assume that people the entire country over who had enrolled despite being nowhere near Farmington Hills, Michigan, would not have raised an eyebrow when they were not given any class-work.

Realistically, I think judicial proceedings stemming from this need to be handled fairly, with those fresh to the program being treated with a lighter touch than those who abused it knowing full well what it was, but more than that and as an aside to the point, I would like to enjoy and congratulate a successful sting that tackles issues of visa abuse, and that show that ICE is not just border patrol 2.0. Too often have I heard suggestions that ICE only exists to shoot and rape poor brown people, as though the job of securing a border is easy, or as though any institution which is built and predicated around an authority which, if necessary, has the jurisdiction to take a human life isn’t going to have a few corrupt actors that make their way inside it.

ICE does not exist solely for the sake of ensuring that Guatemalans who come to hurl rocks at border patrol agents have a miserable time if they then try to sneak past the border. They are busy hunting down white collar criminals as well, and while I’m sure that there probably were mostly Chinese and Indians among those numbers of those paying to stay, I’m sure there were likely Europeans as well who did the same thing. If I am to be proven wrong if and/or when the full list of deportees is released, then so be it, but more than anything, I would like most of all for this to settle once and for all the debate.

Illegal immigrant is not a skin color. Those who come to any country illegally, or who overstay their legal allowance of a Visa and then, by illegal means seek to extend that Visa, have no legal right to be in that country and should be sent back to their country of origin. Legal channels exist for the sake of appealing for amnesty. Methods exist for pursuing the path to citizenship that should be honored by all. If they are not; if someone dares to disregard the law of the land, they have no excuse when that law is justly applied to them, no matter who they are, how they look, or where they come from.

I look forward to any future such programs, built to stem white-collar exploitation of the visa system, though I suspect that those who were eager to apply for the likes of schools such as Farmington will be much more wary now that the possibility of having it all fall out from under them exists. Granted, I think going any farther than this might be a bit of an over-reach and might not be worth the actual investment of funds based on costs involved in the venture. Much as I approve of a defense of the rights of American citizens to not have the value of their own citizenship eroded, the budding economist in me also questions just how much this whole operation must have cost and whether the allocation of this funding was indeed worth the results. I suppose that only time will tell us that much once more information is released.