Jie Fang v. Director United States Immigr

PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 17-3318 _____________ JIE FANG; XIAOYU ZHANG; SHAOFU LI; KAUSHALKUMAR PATEL; HIRENKUMAR PATEL, Appellants v. DIRECTOR UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT; SECRETARY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; DIRECTOR UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (No. 2-17-cv-02092) District Judge: Honorable Jose L. Linares _____________ Argued September 25, 2018 ____________ Before: McKEE, RESTREPO and FUENTES, Circuit Judges. (Opinion Filed: August 15, 2019) Ira J. Kurzban [Argued] Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli & Pratt 131 Madeira Avenue Coral Gables, FL 33134 Thomas E. Moseley One Gateway Center Suite 2600 Newark, NJ 07102 Attorneys for Appellants Daniel W. Meyler Office of United States Attorney 970 Broad Street Room 700 Newark NJ, 07102 Joshua S. Press [Argued] United States Department of Justice Office of Immigration Litigation P.O. Box 868 Ben Franklin Station Washington, DC 20044 Attorneys for Appellees OPINION OF THE COURT McKee, Circuit Judge According to its website, the University of Northern New Jersey “was founded in 2012 after several years of witnessing the challenges inexperienced graduates face in a diverse and global job market.”1 It was purportedly “nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Commission on English Language Accreditation” and “certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Student and Exchange Visitor Program to educate international students.”2 The site listed the President as Dr. Steven Brunetti, Ph.D., and included a message from Dr. 1 History of UNNJ, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN NEW JERSEY, https://web.archive.org /web/20160312141506/http://www.unnj.edu/history-of-unnj (last visited July 19, 2019). 2 Id. 2 Brunetti touting the school’s dedication “to providing a high- quality American education to the domestic and international academic community.”3 The school’s social media accounts even informed students when UNNJ closed for inclement weather and posted wedding pictures after two of the school’s alumni were purportedly married.4 But the University never existed. Neither did Dr. Brunetti or the newlywed “alumni.” The Department of Homeland Security created UNNJ as a “sham university” as part of a scheme to catch brokers of fraudulent student visas. The plan worked, in a manner of speaking. It did catch many brokers of fraudulent student visas. It also ensnared hundreds of foreign students who had “enrolled” in UNNJ. The Government initially conceded that those students were innocent victims of the fraud, but later tried to change that characterization to suggest that they were more akin to participants in the fraudulent scheme.5 When DHS’s investigation into the fraudulent visa scheme concluded, each enrolled student—including the plaintiffs here—received a letter informing them that their student status “ha[d] been set to Terminated due to [their] fraudulent enrollment” in UNNJ.6 The import of that letter underlies this appeal. 3 Office of the President, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN NEW JERSEY, https://web.archive.org web/20160307134201/http://www.unnj.edu/office-of-the- president/ (last visited July 19, 2019). 4 See, e.g., @UNorthernNJ, TWITTER (Feb 2, 2015, 5:45 AM), https://twitter.com/ UNorthernNJ/status/562245302401634304 (last visited July 19, 2019) (“UNNJ will be closed today due to weather. This ...

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