New Jersey University Was Fake, but Visa Fraud Arrests Are Real
On the surface, the University of Northern New Jersey seemed legitimate. It had a website, with a seal featuring the Latin words “Humanus, Scientia, Integritas,” a list of business-oriented degrees offered and a promise of “an exceptional educational experience.”
表面上，北新泽西大学(University of Northern New Jersey)看似合法。学校有自己的网站，印章上用拉丁文写着“人文、求知、正直”(Humanus，Scientia，Integritas)。网站上还列出了一系列商业方向的学位，并承诺提供“非同寻常的教育体验”。
It was so exceptional it did not exist.
Instead, the university was a fake, set up by the Homeland Security Department in 2012 as part of a sting operation to ensnare criminals involved in student visa fraud.
On Tuesday, that operation resulted in the arrest of 21 people in New Jersey and the state of Washington, the United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, and Sarah Saldaña, the director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced at a news conference in Newark.
本周二，驻新泽西州的联邦检察官保罗·J·菲什曼(Paul J. Fishman)和美国移民及海关执法局（United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement，简称ICE）局长莎拉·萨尔达尼亚(Sarah Saldaña)在纽瓦克的新闻发布会上宣布，新泽西州和华盛顿州共有21人在行动中被捕。
The people arrested were brokers who recruited foreign students, mainly from China and India, to an institution that they knew would not have real classes in order to maintain student visas. The brokers, working with people posing as university officials, charged the students fees in a scheme that allowed the students to stay in the country. They also arranged for jobs, and some of the employers were also issued warrants for arrest.
Some brokers received commissions from the undercover officials worth $1,200 to $2,000 on average for each student they recruited, Ms. Saldaña said. As part of the sting operation, other brokers received illicit payments for placing students in jobs.
Some of those arrested include legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens. Six agents arrested were from New York City, including three from Flushing, Queens.
“Our message is pretty loud and clear,” Ms. Saldaña said in an interview. “We’re out there, we have intelligence to identify you, we’re going to find you and bring you to justice.”
The University of Northern New Jersey, established in 2012 with the address of an office building in Cranford, N.J., may have been billed as an institution of higher learning, but no learning took place. It purported to offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in areas like accounting, marketing and health care management. To lure unsuspecting recruiters, it was listed as state-licensed and certified by the Homeland Security Department. But there were no classes, no faculty members and no degrees over the last three years.
One thousand “students” who knowingly enrolled for at least 45 days at the university will shortly be receiving notices to appear in immigration court, and will ultimately have their visas revoked, the government said. Mr. Fishman said all of the recruited students were already living in the United States and were looking for a way to stay. Many did not stay in the New York metropolitan area, but lived and worked throughout the country.
The sting operation, the government said, was a way to understand the extent of the criminal network behind visa fraud, including how students are recruited, how fake universities work and what happens after the students are enrolled.
About 1.2 million students are currently in the United States on student visas, a majority of whom are legitimately attending universities, government officials said.
There have been several high-profile student visa fraud cases in recent years from California to New York, which represent a security concern for a government under pressure to screen visa applicants for possible terrorism ties.
The most prominent arrest in the case of sham universities, also known as visa mills, was in 2011. Susan Xiao-Ping Su, the founder of Tri-Valley University, in Northern California, was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The university had offered classes in engineering and medicine, but did not require that students attend them. More than 1,500 students, mostly from India, were affected, and not all knew that they were being defrauded.
最有名的“野鸡大学”——又叫签证工厂——拘捕行动发生在2011年。当时，北加州三谷大学(Tri-Valley University)的创始人苏小平(Susan Xiao-Ping Su)被判16年监禁。该校开设了工程和医学方面的课程，但并不要求学生到校上课。事件中有1500多名学生受到影响，大部分来自印度。并不是所有人都知道自己被骗了。
In January, in a case brought by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, three executives of Micropower Career Institute, a for-profit college with five locations in the New York City-New Jersey area, pleaded guilty to visa fraud. Among other offenses, the executives took $7.4 million from foreign students in exchange for visas, prosecutors said.
今年1月，在纽约州南区联邦检察官普里特·巴拉拉(Preet Bharara)提起的一桩案件中，在纽约市和新泽西州有五所分校的微动力职业学院(Micropower Career Institute)三名高管对签证诈骗指控表示认罪。检察部门称，他们的罪行包括，以办理签证作为交换，从外国学生那里收取了740万美元。
In 2012, a Government Accountability Office report faulted Immigration and Customs Enforcement for not providing enough control in the verification process of institutions and applicants under the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Officials with ICE said it had since been trying to tighten its accreditation protocols.
2012年，美国政府问责局(Government Accountability Office)的一份报告指责移民及海关执法局在核查学生和交流访问学者信息系统(Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)中的机构和申请者时，未进行足够的控制。ICE的官员表示，自那以后，该机构一直在努力加强审核措施。
Although the officials would not discuss how many fraudulent schools might actually be operating, Mr. Fishman said they were “too prevalent.”
“The University of Northern New Jersey was another stop on the ‘pay to stay’ tour,” he added.
The Facebook page of the University of Northern New Jersey last had a post on March 5, announcing the school would be closed until March 18 for spring break. Earlier posts included pictures of students — some wearing “Badgers” T-shirts — against the same plain gray wall with the school seal and the letters U.N.N.J. On the university’s website, a note from the supposed president, Steven Brunetti, offered platitudes about the education offered at the university.
“As you explore U.N.N.J.,” the president’s note said, “I am confident that you will uncover all of the priceless opportunities an education from U.N.N.J. will provide you for your future.”