The DHS, fake universities and the Obama administration

Felicia Persaud | 12/5/2019, 1:26 p.m. | Updated on 12/5/2019, 1:26 p.m.

Like many, I too was furious last week when I read the Detroit Free Press story that stated that U.S. ICE had arrested over 250 immigrant students since January, after they enrolled in a fake university set up by the Department of Homeland Security in Michigan. Of course, my first instinct was to slam the Trump administration and its new low. Until of course I stopped to do my research and nearly fell out of my seat.

What the Free Press did not mention was that this fake university, as well as another set up in 2013 in New Jersey, were all done during the Obama administration, while Jeh Johnson was head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Yes, you read that right. This sting operation that engaged in entrapment, deceit and eventual “robbery” of foreign-born immigrant students started way before Donald Trump’s time as president.

The fake University of Farmington, registered with Detroit’s state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and located in the basement of the North Valley office complex located at 30500 Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills, Michigan, which the Free Press’ article focused on, was set up in January 2016, while Trump was still campaigning, and Pres. Obama was in his last year of office.

Now many who know me will attest to the fact that I am no fan of Donald Trump. But I’m all about balance and fairness and the fact that this sort of DHS skullduggery was being done under the Obama administration against immigrants who were not criminals in any real sense, but simply wanted to study in this country and could be an asset to it, blew my mind completely.

I was in shock!

And then I found that another fake university had been created by the DHS’ Homeland Security Investigations, a directorate of U.S. ICE­­––again under the Obama administration. This was done in 2013, one year after Pres. Obama won a second term in office.

The University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ), like the one in Michigan, was also reportedly set up to “investigate student visa fraud.” It claimed to be based in Cranford, New Jersey, with plans to expand to Harrison, Hoboken and Morristown.

And­­––like in Michigan––the government rented space, this time at 25 Commerce Drive, Cranford, New Jersey, and promoted it as its campus. It created an extensive Internet presence, including an elaborate website with a .edu domain name, created a crest bearing a remarkable similarity to that of Princeton University with a Latin motto, and set up a Facebook presence led by the university's “president,” a character named Dr. Steven Brunetti who even had a LinkedIn page.

And like with the Michigan operation, the UNNJ was also accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and recognized by the state of New Jersey.

In April 2016, however, Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Sarah R. Saldaña, the then director of U.S. ICE, announced that the sting operation had ended with the arrests of 21 people.