Muslim students from the Middle East paid a California man millions dollars to attend college for them, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials maintain.

Eamonn Daniel Higgins, 46, resident of the upscale city of Laguna Niguel, received stashes of cash to study sociology, marketing, English, business and mathematics at 10 colleges in southern California beginning in 2002, authorities allege. The colleges include Cal State Los Angeles, Irvine Valley College, and Santa Monica College.

In federal court yesterday, Mr. Higgins, a U.S. citizen, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. He faces five years in prison if convicted.

Mr. Higgins, according to the immigration officials, attended class, wrote papers and took exams for about 120 students from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar.

The demand for the services of Mr. Higgins became so high he allegedly hired staff, including a blond woman who posed as a Middle Eastern man, the agents allege.

Foreigners who want to study in the United States must attend school full-time to keep their visas valid.

“We have seen visa fraud schemes before, but we have never seen anything quite like this,” said Debra Parker, Los Angeles acting special agent in charge of investigations for the immigration agency. “This is something really sophisticated.”

Although immigration agents don’t believe that any of the students had links to terrorism, Parker said Monday the agency was still investigating. “It definitely highlights some of the vulnerability, the way these people were able to go and compromise the integrity of the immigration system,” Parker said.

In a related incident, Lydia Menocal and Ofelia Macia have been arrested by ICE officials for providing phony student visas to hundreds of Muslim students at a bogus school called the Florida Language Institute in Miami. The two women made $2.4 million from the scam.

According to the ICE indictment, only five percent of the 600 foreign national aliens were legitimate students. The rest never showed up for class and remained “enrolled” so they could enter and stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

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  1. Chris says:

    Islam in the east… where it spurted and grew…is slowly loosing ties with its traditional norms and backward views. Today, in countries like Tunisia and Jordan, a significant number of women are in prominent positions in the society. Which was alien few decades back, moreover, there is a potential revolution in Iran by the intellectuals…this is all very good for civilization. However, condition of Islam and islamisation is getting worse in the western world…because of identity crisis and culture clash…this is going to have a serious outcome in the future…to the western world. The Muslim population is growing in a geometrical proportion unlike Christian population which is of decline…moreover, men, both radical and moderate over-dominate their opposite sex…and seldom let them free…most women Muslim women are denied basic civil rights and human rights in the families…and often looked down upon…this wont lead Islam anywhere…contrary to this, the number of Muslim women in economic activity of the mainstream society is negligible as compared to other faiths….moreover…there is too much power in the hands of clerics…who are just dictators and hold a very narrow view about the faith…they induce their followers to produce violence and wrath in the society…the only solution to modern Muslims to throw their tag as radicals…would be in educating young men and women towards critical and logical thinking to hold a broad based view about the world.

  2. Anonymus says:

    Excellant view………..This is actually true

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