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A group of students has filed a class action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) challenging the government’s determination that they committed visa fraud by enrolling in a fake university that was created by ICE as part of a sting operation. The University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ) was fabricated by the government to investigate and prosecute academic brokers who ICE believed were committing fraud. Specifically, UNNJ provided brokers with financial kickbacks for recruiting and enrolling students in their program.

ICE obtained accreditation for UNNJ from the state; created an official “.edu” website with pictures of the school and its supposed students; and hired fake staff and a President who regularly posted to the University’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. When ICE shut down the school in April of 2016, they arrested 21 academic brokers for visa fraud but also terminated the student status of more than 1,000 students who had enrolled in the program. Those students are now challenging ICE’s finding that they committed fraud by enrolling in the University for the sole purpose of illegally obtaining and/or maintaining their student status.

Lauren Wallis is an immigration attorney at Brewer & Lormand, PLLC. She works out of the firm’s Dallas office and defends individuals against deportation before the Immigration Court in Dallas, Texas. She also handles SIJS, VAWA, U Visas, Military PIP, Applications for Residency, Citizenship, Adjustments of Status, DACA, TPS, and Asylum.