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ICE Arrests Over 200 Students Enrolled at a Fake University Created by Homeland Security

The fake university is believed to have kept millions of dollars in fees paid by students.

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Fake University
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(TMU) — Since January of this year, around 250 students at a fake university in Michigan have been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on immigration violations. In March, ICE reported that only 161 students had been arrested.

The arrests are part of “Paper Chase,” a sting operation that lured foreign-born would-be students to enroll at the University of Farmington, a fake university offering graduate programs in technology and computer studies. The “school” was created by the Department of Homeland Security and is believed to have collected—and kept—millions of dollars in fees paid by students.

Students, most of which were from India, enrolled at the University of Farmington and had legally entered the U.S. on student visas. The fake university, where over 600 students were enrolled, was staffed with undercover agents posing as school officials and was shut down in January.

According to records filed with Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), the school was officially incorporated in January 2016. The school was legitimately accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

Of the total arrested, “nearly 80% were granted voluntary departure and departed the United States,” according to a statement given to the Detroit Free Press by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’s (HSI) Detroit office. Around 10% of the arrested students were issued a final order of removal, ordered removed by an immigration judge, or “given an expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

About 10% are filing for relief or “contesting their removals with Executive Office for Immigration Review.”

Only one student has been allowed to stay thanks to an immigration judge who granted the student lawful permanent resident status while two students who were voluntarily sent back to India after a voluntary departure agreement with ICE, were denied reentry after trying to return this year.

Detroit Free Press reports that students enrolled through Curricular Practical Training (CPT), a program that “allows students to work in the U.S through a F-1 visa program for foreign students.” Some students had even transferred to the University of Farmington after their former schools lost their accreditation status, something that would immediately threaten their ability to remain in the United States.

According to attorneys for the arrested students, the U.S. government unfairly entrapped the unsuspecting students by advertising the university as legitimate, including being accredited. “They preyed upon on them,” said Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented and advised some of the arrested students.

Ali Milani, the University of Farmington’s president, said in an email that the graduate program cost around $1,000 a month. According to Reddy, the U.S. government “made a lot of money” during the sting and, at least so far, no one has filed a lawsuit against the government for keeping the money and entrapping the unsuspecting students.

That may have something to do with the fact that attorneys for both ICE and the Department of Justice have maintained that students knew—or should have known—that the university was fake.

During a hearing for Prem Rampeesa, one of eight recruiters for the school, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote:

“Their true intent could not be clearer. 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.”

But according to the Times of India, there was “no way for students to verify its authenticity.” For most students, seeing the school accredited was probably all the proof they needed to enroll.

Employees working in the same building that housed the fake school have been quoted as saying students came “asking what what time they open, what time they close.”

“I feel sad for them because I know some of them didn’t know,” said Steven Jeffers, an employee in the building. Jeffers reported seeing students arrive with backpacks and asking questions about classes.

Despite no lawsuits against the government for entrapping the students, seven out the eight recruiters have been sentenced to anywhere from 12-18 months in prison, with the eighth recruiter scheduled to sentencing in January of next year. Rampeesa was sentenced on November 19 and will be deported to India at the conclusion of his prison sentence.

According to Rampeesa’s attorney, the recruiter with no prior criminal record, was just trying to “help his family back home.”

And it turns out the scandal is all to familiar to Rampeesa, who, as it turns out, is also a victim of the University of Farmington. The 27-year-old came to the U.S. legally on a student visa before earning a master’s degree in computer science at Northwestern Polytechnic University. But after the school lost its accreditation, Rampeesa’s immigration status was at risk. Having already spent $40,000 to attend Northwestern Polytechnic, Rampeesa “was desperate to find a way to stay in the United States,” according to his attorney.

Sama, one of the eight recruiters, actually recruited Rampeesa to attend the fake school, telling him he would receive tuition credits if he recruited more students. Both Sama and Rampeesa thought they were employed by the school and working with university officials who, it turns out, were actually undercover Department of Homeland Security agents.

However, an assistant U.S. Attorney involved in the case maintains that Rampeesa was aware the school “was completely fake” and “just for maintaining status.”

During Rampeesa’s sentencing, that same assistant U.S. Attorney called for a sentence of 24 to 30 months saying, “It’s important to send a message … this type of crime will not be tolerated.” 

In 2016, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges likewise certified the University of Northern New Jersey during a sting operation resulting in the arrest of 29 agents and the deportation of around 1000, mostly Indian, students.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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