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21 Jun

Homeland Security Investigations: Catching 21st Century Coyotes

homeland security investigations

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a cutting-edge federal law enforcement agency that is at the forefront of keeping our country and our economy safe. In an era when technology is empowering criminals to change their tactics at an intractable pace, agencies like HSI have gone digitally native to protect America from immigration fraud, cyber crimes, human rights violations and countless other activities that could threaten our safety and livelihood.

A Quick HSI History Lesson

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was formed in 2010 to be the investigative division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which, in turn, absorbed the investigative and interior enforcement responsibilities of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service agencies when it was formed as a part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

HSI can trace its historical origins back to the establishment of the U.S. Customs Service in 1789.

Recently, HSI made headlines when the agency created the University of Northern New Jersey, a fake university, as a part of a sting to target unscrupulous visa brokers and learn more about the underground networks dealing in visa fraud.

HSI arrested 21 visa brokers, recruiters and employers in connection with the fake university sting. The agency alleges that visa brokers arrested in the case knowingly encouraged their foreign clients to apply for a university that didn’t exist.

University of Northern New Jersey thumbnail

The homepage of the University of Northern New Jersey’s website, which has since been taken offline. Retrieved via The Internet Archive

The arrest of these brokers is evocative of the government’s prosecution of so-called “coyotes” —or people smugglers—who often deceive and intimidate aspiring immigrants into paying exorbitant fees by making them false promises of safe, law-abiding placement in the U.S. In a similar way, this example of visa fraud encourages aspiring immigrants to become involved in illegal practices that could imperil their status in the United States.

Just as the ubiquity of the Internet has enabled criminal means and methods to constantly evolve, Homeland Security Investigations is evolving to ensure the agency’s protection of our economy and to safeguard legitimate immigration.