ICE Arrests 163 in Recent Enforcement Actions in New Jersey, New England

In several recent enforcement actions, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 163 people in New Jersey and the New England region of the United States. Following are highlights:

New Jersey. ICE arrested 105 people in a New Jersey operation targeting criminal aliens and public safety threats, the agency reported. Four individuals in the United States without authorization who have Interpol warrants based on crimes they committed in their home countries were among the 105 foreign nationals taken into custody during a five-day operation in New Jersey (and including two individuals arrested in New York). The action was spearheaded by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and targeted “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and other immigration violators.” It was supported by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) New Jersey Field Office.

Of those arrested during the operation, 80 percent had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges, ICE said. The individuals arrested throughout New Jersey included nationals of Brazil (6), Canada (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Cuba (2), Dominican Republic (10), Ecuador (4), Egypt (1), El Salvador (8), Guatemala (13), Honduras (7), Jamaica (4), Korea (2), Mexico (28), Peru (4), Philippines (1), Poland (1), Russia (1), Serbia (1), Slovakia (2), Spain (1), Taiwan (1), Trinidad (1), and Venezuela (4). ICE said these individuals range from age 18 to 65 years old and most were previously convicted of a variety of offenses. Some of the convictions included sexual assault on a minor, child abuse, possession of narcotics, distribution of narcotics, extortion, DUI, fraud, domestic violence, theft, possession of a weapon, robbery, promoting prostitution, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, shoplifting, and illegal reentry.

New England. Officers from ICE’s ERO Boston arrested 58 people in enforcement activities during a five-day period, ending December 4, 2018, in the New England region. Of the 58 individuals arrested by ICE’s ERO for violating U.S. immigration laws:

  • 30 had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses;
  • 33 had criminal charges pending;
  • 15 individuals were previously released from local law enforcement custody, correctional facilities, and/or court custody with an active detainer;
  • 9 were referred for criminal prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the jurisdiction; one was referred to the U.S. Marshals for failure to register as a sex offender as required by federal law;
  • 9 of those arrested had been previously removed from the United States and returned without authorization; and
  • 4 had active Interpol Red Notices.

Criminal histories of those arrested during the operation included charges and convictions for: murder, aggravated identity theft, assault, attempted assault, cocaine possession, cocaine trafficking, DUI, and multiple other categories of crimes. The arrestees included nationals from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, France, Jamaica, Haiti, and Antigua, among other nations.

The ICE announcement about the New Jersey action is at The ICE announcement about the New England action is at

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced historic action to confront the illegal immigration crisis facing the United States.  Effective immediately, the United States will begin the process of invoking Section 235(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Under the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), individuals arriving in or entering the United States from Mexico—illegally or without proper documentation—may be returned to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. “Today we are announcing historic measures to bring the illegal immigration crisis under control,” said Secretary Nielsen.  “We will confront this crisis head on, uphold the rule of law, and strengthen our humanitarian commitments.  Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates.  Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico.  ‘Catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return.’  In doing so, we will reduce illegal migration by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place.  This will also allow us to focus more attention on those who are actually fleeing persecution. “Let me be clear:  we will undertake these steps consistent with all domestic and international legal obligations, including our humanitarian commitments.  We have notified the Mexican government of our intended actions.  In response, Mexico has made an independent determination that they will commit to implement essential measures on their side of the border.  We expect affected migrants will receive humanitarian visas to stay on Mexican soil the ability to apply for work, and other protections while they await a U.S. legal determination.”


DOL’s iCERT System Crashed on January 1, Preventing H-2B Application E-Filings

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) iCERT website crashed early on January 1, 2019, preventing employers from e-filing their application packets for the 33,000 H-2B visas with an April 1, 2019, start date for temporary nonagricultural H-2B workers. Employers and their attorneys reported working late on New Year’s Eve to be able to submit their applications at midnight ET, only to be thwarted repeatedly while hitting “submit.”

DOL subsequently posted the following iCERT announcement:


We sincerely apologize for the major service interruption in the iCERT System early in the morning of January 1, 2019. Due to overwhelming filing demand, the Department’s technology staff is working diligently to investigate the cause of the system outage and has temporarily taken the iCERT System down for the remainder of January 1st and until further notice. The Department will provide another update on the status of the iCERT System around 12:00PM EST, January 2nd, and separate advance public notice regarding when the iCERT System will be operational once again.

DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced on January 7, 2019, that the system was back up as of 2 p.m. ET that day.

OFLC announced on January 8, 2019, that it had received approximately 5,276 H-2B applications covering more than 96,400 worker positions, which was nearly three times greater than the 33,000 semiannual visa allotment for fiscal year 2019. To process this “significant surge,” OFLC said it would sequentially assign H-2B applications to analysts based on the calendar date and time on which the applications were received, measured to the millisecond.

On January 11, 2019, OFLC posted the following additional announcements:

The Department has received questions about the difference between timestamps displayed in iCERT and timestamps contained in emails confirming the submission of applications. When an applicant submits an application, the system generates a courtesy email to the applicant which confirms the submission. The date and time in the courtesy email, however, does not represent the official date and time of the applicant’s submission. Rather, it indicates the time at which the email was generated. To reiterate, the official date and time of each application may be viewed in the applicant’s H-2B Portfolio Screen through the applicant’s iCERT system account.

The Department undertook an after-action analysis of the iCERT system’s January 7, 2019 performance. Through a review of the data logs, the Department has determined that 186 applicants submitted the same application more than once in the iCERT system. Because the iCERT database overwrites the previous date and time stamp when a new submission is made, the official date and time saved in the iCERT database is the date and time of the final submission. For these 186 applications, the Department was able to determine the time of the first submission down to the second. For the 152 applicants with multiple submissions within the same second, the final time stamp to the millisecond is reflected in the official date and time. In the remaining 34 cases, the submissions were made outside of the same second. Those applications are now at the first submission’s second. These time stamps are reflected in the official receipt date and time that may be viewed on the H-2B Portfolio Screen through an iCERT system account.

Some users received an outage banner which delayed or blocked access to the H-2B page in the iCERT system. To increase processing capacity on January 7, 2019, the Department scaled up iCERT infrastructure to 50 load-balanced servers. One of the pathways to these servers did not allow access to the iCERT’s H-2B module system at the 2:00 p.m. EST opening of the system, and for approximately two and [a] half hours thereafter. All iCERT users were randomly assigned to a server at log-on as per a standard load-balancing algorithm. As a result, users assigned to this particular pathway experienced the outage banner and may have been delayed from getting into iCERT’s H-2B module. In addition, the Department received questions regarding whether there was a restoration of data due to data corruption. There was no restoration of data from back-up and no data corruption found connected to the system disruption of January 1, 2019.

The Department was notified that some applicants were missing certain required data or attachments from their applications. As per standard practice, applicants are encouraged to log into their iCERT accounts and verify that their applications are complete and accurate. If any attachments are missing, applicants may upload them at any time. If any required data fields on the ETA-9142B are missing or inaccurate, applicants may contact the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) help desk at [email protected] and provide the relevant H-2B case number and explain the necessary corrections.

In light of the unprecedented demand for H-2B labor certifications, the Department is considering rulemaking changing the process by which applications are ordered for processing, including randomization and other methods. In the interim, the Department welcomes comments and suggestions from the public on these matters. Comments and suggestions should be directed to … [email protected].

Some attorneys said the agency had been warned in advance about the capacity issue, and that lawsuits were pending. The system is at OFLC’s announcements are at


State Dept. Issues Travel Advisory for China

The Department of State warned U.S. citizens on January 3, 2019, to exercise increased caution when traveling to China due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.” The travel advisory states that Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using “exit bans,” sometimes “keeping U.S. citizens in China for years.”

The travel advisory states that China uses exit bans coercively to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties. In most cases, U.S. citizens become aware of the exit ban only when they attempt to leave China, the advisory states, and there is no way to find out how long the ban may continue. “U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened,” the advisory notes.

The advisory warns that U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crimes. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

The advisory also notes that China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to “additional scrutiny and harassment,” and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services, the advisory states.

Among other things, the advisory recommends that those traveling to China enter on their U.S. passports with a valid Chinese visa; enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program; and have a contingency plan. The advisory, which includes additional information, is at

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.

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