Students at fake university created by ICE can sue US, court rules



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Students who enrolled in a fake university set up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of a sting operation can sue the U.S., an appeals court ruled last week.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that dismissed a complaint against the U.S. by an Indian student named Ravi Teja Tiyagurra.

The University of Farmington was created by ICE in 2015 in Michigan with the aim of exposing student visa fraud. The operation was publicly revealed when eight people were indicted for visa fraud and “harboring aliens for profit” in 2019.

According to the appeals court ruling, Ravi said in his 2021 complaint that he was unaware the apparent university was not a real school and paid thousands of dollars to enroll as a student. He alleged that he had “entered into a contract” with the University of Farmington for education services and that the university “had breached that contract, and the contract’s implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” per the decision.

“The government’s operation eventually came to light, but the government neither provided the paid-for education nor gave Mr. Ravi his money back,” the judges wrote in the ruling.

“The University of Farmington students and their legal team are ecstatic that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled to allow the 600 students unjustly targeted by this fake ICE university to have their day in court,” Anna Nathanson, an attorney for Ravi, said in a press release last Friday. 

The Hill has reached out to ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.



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