The real target of this sting operation was supposedly the recruiters -- the students "faced deportation," but the recruiters were charged criminally. Student visa fraud involves recruiters grabbing real visas for universities that they know are fake. But you'd think there'd be a way of arresting such people without luring in honest ones and ruining their lives. Because yeah, these kids' futures are fucked.
Besides losing tens of thousands of dollars and wasting years, now they also have visa fraud on their records, and will likely never be allowed to enter the U.S. again, much less ever immigrate here. The same goes for Canada, the UK, or any other country that asks applicants if they've had visa issues.
Homeland Security insists that the students are also guilty, since they clearly knew something was up as soon as they realized they weren't taking classes, if not earlier. But even aside from the students who then transferred to real colleges because they actually wanted to learn (and were deported anyway), all the students had reason to believe they were following the rules, based on what was said on the department's own goddamn website.
Sure makes it seem like this was all nothing but a scheme by a government that hates immigrants and want to rob them. Another Trump administration blunder, right? Except DHS has been doing this for years, and pulled the same scheme in New Jersey starting in 2013, under Obama.