NEWARK – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers separately arrested two men, one of them Indian, after they were released from the custody of Middlesex County, New Jersey.
The federal immigration enforcement agency had previously lodged detainers on the two individuals while they were in the county’s custody, but the county failed to honor the requests, ICE said in a press release June 19. The two men are Maulik Gajjar, an Indian citizen, and Aurelio Hernandez Cortez, a Mexican citizen.
On May 22, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Gajjar with the Middlesex County facility, but on the same day, the correctional facility released him from custody without notifying ICE, the federal agency said. Gajjar is currently facing state criminal charges.
Gajjar was one of nine people arrested in 2012 for allegedly conducting a foreign student visa fraud scheme.
On June 7, ERO Newark officers arrested Gajjar outside his residence in Iselin. Cortez does not have lawful status in the United States, ICE said, and he will remain in ICE custody pending deportation proceedings.
“As a nation, we must protect the integrity of our immigration system and the removal of illegal aliens, especially those with a criminal history, this is one of ICE’s top priorities,” John Tsoukaris, ERO Newark field office director, is quoted saying in the press release. “ICE shares the county’s ultimate objective to protect public safety and national security while simultaneously preserving the critical community police bond. As such, county jails that fail to work with ICE put their communities at risk.”
In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals. Of this total, 174,923 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 65,332 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority were convicted criminals.