Ryan Lovelace at National Review picked up the story of a clever plot to assist illegal immigrants out in California. Several schools instituted a program where “students” could attend schools which would qualify them to maintain their student visa status (for a hefty cash payment) even though they had no intention of actually attending any classes. As they say… good work if you can get it.

The federal government has arrested the ringleaders of four Los Angeles schools that ran “pay-to-stay” scams, whereby student-visa holders managed to stay in the U.S. without ever attending classes. The schools collected $6 million per year in tuition payments from the students, according to the Los Angeles Times…

When DHS investigators conducted a surprise check at the American College of Forensic Studies, they found one, single student in one, single religion class, despite the school’s claims that 300 foreign students were enrolled at the school, according to the Times. At Prodee University, investigators found just three foreign students in one English class, despite the more than 900 foreign students who were enrolled at the school.

As the author notes, this is one more example of ICE trying to manage a program they do not understand. When you keep adding one program after another which gives “Americans in Waiting” yet another chance at staying here under the auspices of an allegedly legitimate program, you open the door for corruption. These weren’t people sneaking in under a fence or through a tunnel. They obtained what should have originally been legitimate documentation and then went about whatever their new business was while paying corrupt agents to sign off on their status as “students” so they could remain in the country under false pretenses.

In a way, I can understand why it took so long to uncover this, since they apparently looked for all the world like legitimate schools. (Aside from generally being empty, that is.) But a little digging into one of the schools turned up this annual report for Prodee University. It includes the following brief details about their “Advisory Board Members” on page 8 of the linked pdf file. (Emphasis mine.)

Advisory Board Members

Neo-America Language School, Inc. has an advisory board that consists of consultants and experts from several fields pertaining to private organizations.

Charlotte B. Tisdom, HOA President, Organization and Compliance
Suna Pi, Foreign Student Advisor
LaRonda Ortega, Assistant Principal, Student Services

*Due to the difficulty in bringing everybody together at the same time contact has been maintained on a regular basis through telephone conferencing and e-mails.

So you’re saying this is a school. And you have, as two of your three esteemed advisory board members, one person who is a student advisor and another who is an assistant principal who have such a hard time getting together at the same time that you felt it necessary to let us know that they are usually only in contact by email or conference call? Couldn’t they have just… oh, I don’t know… walked down the hall?

These “schools” seem to have been clearly set up as a dodge to get around immigration law and allow immigrants to stay here under false pretenses beyond the time allotted under our already generous immigration rules. How many more of these operations are out there waiting to be discovered? And yet we are having an ongoing fight in Washington over how to make it easier to do this.

America is truly the land of opportunity. And if you start a fake school, you too can charge people thousands of dollars per year to break the rules. As Yakov Smirnoff once said… what a country!