Tuesday, April 7, 2020

ICE: Fake University used to draw out illegal immigrants (2019)

          In 2019 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, arrested many students and a few others involved in enrolling in a fake university in order to maintain citizenship in the United States. The University of Farmington in Michigan was a set up by ICE created in 2015 to arrest illegal immigrants. Over 600 students were enrolled in a fake university (Associated Press, Fox News).  The school was made to look as legitimate as possible, so it was given a logo and even a saying, “Scientia et Labor”, meaning knowledge and work.
         Starting in January of 2019 ICE officials began making arrests on the people who were in on the scheme. Since then 250 students have been charged with immigration violations and are facing deportation. Of those people 80% have been granted voluntary deportation, 10% have received mandatory deportation and the other 10% have appealed their deportation ruling (Mettler, Washington Post). Along with the students who have been charged, eight others were charged and have been given jail time because their involvement was greater. These eight were known as recruiters and their role was to reach out to students and get them to “come” to the university. All eight of these recruiters were in their twenties or thirties. The job of the recruiters was to falsify information such as transcripts and fraudulent records. 

         The University is believed to be part of a pay to stay scheme. Meaning that illegal immigrants can stay in the United States because they are paying money to people who can falsify information. For undergraduates the school cost $8,500 and for graduates it cost $11,000. The students had all the benefits of a student visa which included being able to work in the United States, while not having to write papers or take exams (Farzan, The Washington Post). The students were never told that the University was fake, but ICE officials believe that they should have been able to tell. There were no classes and no teachers at the university. However, the students believe that they were deceived. They either felt entrapped or confused because some did bring up concerns to the school’s administration about the school’s legitimacy but were lied to. The reason for them being lied to was because the school’s officials also happen to be government agencies (Gerstmann, Forbes). The ICE sting began in 2015 under the Obama administration but it was not until the Trump administration that ICE officials began to go undercover as the school’s officials. These government officials then began to recruit more students to come to the university. 
The stakeholders in this case go from the recruiters, to the ICE agents, to the students and even to the rest of the United States. The recruiters involved were all sentenced to jail time. A majority of the students have been deported and ICE will have critics due to this scheme. 

An individual is someone who believes that it is best to do what is most beneficial towards oneself, or company as long as it is legal, however they also believe that it is important to be  transparent and not try to trick or deceive people but rather be honest with your intentions. An Individualist would be torn on weather ICE setting up a fake university was morally right. They would think it is okay because they are doing what is best for ICE. ICE not only made over 200 arrest and this operation was considered a huge success, but they also made a decent profit. Every student enrolled in the university had to pay between $8,000 and $11,000, and the school had over 600 students enrolled. Where ICE would have a problem with ICE creating a fake school is that they were deceitful in doing it. Overall an individualist would believe what ICE did was morally wrong. If ICE had never attempted to deceive the students and had been transparent about the situation at hand and Individualist would believe it was morally justified because ICE had made a profit. 
UTILITARIANISM                                                                                                                                                      A Utilitarian believes that people should maximize happiness for everyone. The best decision made is the one that creates the most good. Also, that no one’s happiness is more important than anyone else’s happiness. Since ICE created a fake university and tricked the students for their own benefit and happiness a utilitarian would believe that ICE’s actions were morally wrong. ICE saw their happiness to be more important the illegal immigrants. It wasn’t just one- or two-people’s happiness they traded in for a bunch of others rather hundreds of people had their happiness and dreams stripped away from them by ICE. For a Utilitarian to agree with ICE’s actions they would have had to have done a lot differently. ICE would have had to come up with a way for them to be happy at the same time as the kids enrolled in the fake university. One way would have been to give the kids who enrolled in the University the chance to enroll in a real university and obtain a visa the proper way. Therefore, ICE would be happy because there would be fewer illegal immigrants and the students would be able to stay in the country and continue to pursue their dreams. In this scenario the overall happiness would have been maximized and no one else’s happiness would be put over others. 
KANTIANISM                                                                                                                                                                Kantianism is based on treating people right and allowing them to act rationally. There are basic principles that Kantianism believes in and one is the Formula of Humanity which means to never treat a person as a means to an end, but rather as always as an end. Another basic principle of Kantianism is to always act on goodwill, meaning that the only motivation behind doing something is doing it because it is the right thing, and not because it will make you look good. A person who agrees with Kantianism would say that ICE was wrong for setting up the fake school to trap illegal immigrants. One reason was because ICE used the students to an end, which breaks the Formula of Humanity. By using the students as bait to catch illegal immigrants and force them into deportation through entrapment the government was just using the students. For several years ICE pretended to be part of the school’s administration to only encourage the behavior of the recruiters because they knew in the long run that they would be benefited even though in the end the recruiters would be worse off. Another reason that Kantianism would disagree with this is because the students never had a chance to make a rational decision. The ICE agents never told them when committing to the school that the school was a front and was not a real school. ICE agents believe that the students should have realized when there were no classes but, yet when students went to school officials, they were given the runaround. By not telling the complete truth to the students, it meant that the students could no longer make a rational decision on their own and that the formula of humanity had been broken. Lastly the ICE agents were not acting out of goodwill but rather acting out of their own selfish pleasures. If they were acting out of goodwill, they would not have set up the school to begin with because the school showed little to no respect of those who were not American citizens. For Kantiansim to believe what ICE did was right it would mean that they would not be able to lie to the students. They would have to advertise that they were a fake school ran by the US Government. Therefore, it would be best that ICE just did not create the university. This is the only way for Kantianism to believe that what they were doing was ethically right. 
            Virtue theory is based on four main characteristics: courage, honest, self-control and justice. In Virtue theory it is important to model yourself in to becoming a virtuous person. Doing the right thing in tough situations is what a virtuous person is. In order to have a good and functioning life people must demonstrate rationality. A virtue theorist would believe that ICE was morally wrong. A virtue theorist would say that ICE is wrong because they didn’t show courage or self-control, they weren’t honest, and they didn’t give any of the student’s justice. To be courageous in this situation ICE would have had to stand up for what is right. They had an agreement with the students that if the students paid their college tuition, they would be enrolled in a university and given a student visa. Instead the students were arrested for not having valid visas. ICE gave the students no justice. They didn’t demonstrate fair practices; they saw the students who were in need and took advantage of them. A virtue theorist would see what ICE did as completely immoral and they would have wanted ICE to do the right thing. Which would be to be courageous and allow these students to enroll into a real school by doing this it would also be justice for the students. They could have shown self-control by expecting the students to go to a real school as well without being tricked
ICE creating a fake University to entrap students and deport them was unethical. ICE used their power and ranking to bully those who did not have the connections to stand up to them. They found people who they could easily manipulate because they were desperate and trying to give themselves a better life. Bullying others should not be acceptable in any circumstances. If a person has the power to affect people and the way they act they should use this power for the greater good and not to what benefits them as individuals. Many of these students were trying to create a better life for themselves and ICE used this against them. ICE believes that these students should have known better, but the students were never given the facts that were needed to act rationally. Overall ICE should have never created a fake university to begin with. If they felt this was the only way to capture aliens, then they should have given the students the choice after being confronted to enroll into a real school. ICE has no right to play a greater part in taken away people’s happiness and dreams. All the actions ICE took were morally wrong and moving forward they have a lot to fix.

ACTION PLAN                                                                                                                                                             ICE’s actions were not ethical actions and there are many actions ICE could have chosen to do instead of the ones they did. ICE was morally wrong because they set up a fake university and blatantly lied to the students. They did not confirm the school was fake and they were deceitful, just so they could benefit from others loss. After making the students feel trapped, they then arrested them. After being arrested the students were mainly deported, either voluntarily or involuntarily (Mettler, Washington Post). Not only was the action unethical it was also very costly. ICE deported almost 300,000 people in 2019 and some of those people were criminals however some where young kids, or parents of young children trying to seek refuge in America. ICE only has about half of all Americans support. Some of the main complaints of ICE is that they are not cost effective. It cost ICE more money per a person per a year than it cost to incarcerate a person for year. On average to keep one person in a detention center it cost anywhere between $120 and $150 per a day, yet a person on average spends around two years in a detention center (Detention Statistics. Freedom for Immigrants). By lowering the time, a person spends in a detention center the agency will be more profitable. Another complaint is that many compares Detention Centers to concentration camps. Saying that the US holds people against their will and keeps them in tiny quarters that they can’t leave, and we obtain these people by raiding their houses. That is not something the people of the United States are proud of and not something they want to be known for doing. Therefor ICE needs an action plan that they should follow because what they are doing as an agency is morally wrong.

            I would suggest that ICE should no longer lure in illegal immigrants through traps and lie. Instead they should use the resources they have at hand and find illegal immigrants that way. One way would be to detain those who have a criminal record. ICE’s main priority should be the illegal immigrants causing harm. In 2017 we had over 100,000 illegal immigrants incarcerated in America (Detention Statistics. Freedom for Immigrants). These should be the focus of ICE’s deportation. ICE should also try to keep the amount of time a person is detained to a minimum because it so expensive and many US citizens would not be please that a good part of their tax money is being spent on keeping illegal immigrants detained. ICE should also have rules against separating families. No matter what country a person is from there is no reason to rip apart families. Implementing basic rules on certain aspects would be beneficial to ICE. Moving forward ICE needs to change a lot of things. They should not prey on the people who come to the country for a better life and are trying to work or go to school, but rather those who are being incarcerated for crimes. They should not be deceitful or lie about their actions or intentions in the future. If ICE makes these changes, I believe their approval ratings would be way above 50%.


Associated Press. “ICE Set up Fake University, Then Arrested 250 People Granted Student Visas.” FOX 29 News Philadelphia, FOX 29 News Philadelphia, 10 Dec. 2019, www.fox29.com/news/ice-set-up-fake-university-then-arrested-250-people-granted-student-visas.
“Detention Statistics.” Freedom for Immigrants, www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics/.
Farzan, Antonia. “ICE Set up a Fake University. Hundreds Enrolled, Not Realizing It Was a Sting Operation.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 31 Jan. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/01/31/ice-set-up-fake-university-hundreds-enrolled-not-realizing-it-was-sting-operation/.
Gerstmann, Evan. “Understanding The Bizarre ICE Fake University Sting Operation.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Dec. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/evangerstmann/2019/11/30/understanding-the-bizarre-ice-fake-university-sting-operation/#66bb50cd553e.
“ICE Statistics.” ICE, www.ice.gov/statistics.
Katie Mettler, Antonia Farzan. “ICE Set up a Fake University, Then Arrested 250 People Granted Student Visas.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Nov. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2019/11/27/ice-set-up-fake-university-then-arrested-people-it-gave-student-visas/.
Mervosh, Sarah. “ICE Ran a Fake University in Michigan to Catch Immigration Fraud.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/us/farmington-university-arrests-ice.html.

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