Indian students who enrolled in fake university set up by ICE can sue federal government

Indian students who enrolled in fake university set up by ICE can sue federal government
World's largest gavel, outside courthouse in Columbus, Ohio

600 foreign students who enrolled at a Michigan university that turned out to be an immigration sting operation by ICE can sue the government for a refund of their tuition, a federal appeals court ruled on June 25.

Five years ago, the news media publicly exposed the fact that the “University of Farmington” was a sting set up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target “pay-to-stay” student visa fraud.

ICE opened the fake University of Farmington in 2016. As Reason Magazine notes,

It would ultimately lure in around 600 people on student visas, all of them except one from India, and collect roughly $6 million in tuition and fees from them.

The government claimed that the foreign students were made well aware by recruiters and fake school officials that they were paying for classes and coursework that didn’t exist, but plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they were “unwitting victims,” entrapped by a school that had all the outward appearances of being a legitimate institution.

The university had a website, a regularly updated Facebook page, and a fake history dating back to the 1950s. Records obtained by local news outlets showed Farmington was incorporated by the state of Michigan and listed by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. More importantly, it was certified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which…is the “ultimate seal of official approval,” for foreign students looking for an American education.

Once exposed, ICE quickly shut down the school and arrested roughly 250 former students. Many were deported, while the rest voluntarily left the country.

On June 25, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government isn’t shielded from a class action lawsuit filed four years ago by Teja Ravi, a former student at the fake “University of Farmington,” because it entered into contracts with hundreds of students like Ravi for services that it never provided.

The ruling overturned a decision two years ago by the Court of Federal Claims that dismissed Ravi’s lawsuit, and sends it back to the Court of Claims for further proceedings. Both the Biden and Trump administrations claimed that sovereign immunity barred Ravi’s suit.

The appeals court judges unanimously ruled that the government was not immune and had not proven its claim that its contract with Ravi wasn’t enforceable because it never intended to honor the agreement in the first place.

“The government relies on the notion that, because it was only pretending to operate a university, there could not have been intent to contract on its part, even though it took (and has kept) the money Mr. Ravi paid for the offered education, and it makes that assertion even accepting the assumption, required at the present stage of the case, that Mr. Ravi intended to obtain the education for which he was paying,” the ruling said. “The argument is that even when there is an objectively clear offer and acceptance, with acceptance in the form of paying money to the offeror, there is no contract enforceable against the offeror, for want of mutuality of intent, as long as the offeror had its fingers crossed behind its back when making the offer and accepting the money.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.