Background

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is proposing to amend its regulations to set forth procedures for prohibiting entry into U.S. ports for vessels owned or chartered by an entity found to be in violation of certain laws and regulations relating to the performance of longshore work by nonimmigrant crew members. Comments on this proposed rule are due no later than June 13.

The Immigration and Nationality Act generally prohibits alien crew members (classified as nonimmigrants under this law) from entering the U.S. to perform longshore work, which is defined as any activity in the U.S. or U.S. coastal waters relating to the loading or unloading of cargo, the operation of cargo-related equipment (whether or not integral to the vessel), and the handling of mooring lines on the dock when the vessel is made fast or let go. Longshore work does not include the loading or unloading of certain cargo, including oil and hazardous substances and materials for which the Department of Transportation has prescribed regulations governing cargo handling or storage; the manning of vessels and the duties, qualifications, and training of the officers and crew of vessels carrying such cargo; and the reduction or elimination of discharge during ballasting, tank cleaning, and handling of such cargo.

CBP can issue a fine for the illegal performance of longshore work and is required, upon notification of a violation from the Department of Labor, to debar any vessel owned or chartered by the violating entity from entering U.S. ports for up to a year. However, there are currently no regulations that specify the procedures for debarring vessels.

CBP is therefore proposing to amend its regulations to set forth debarment procedures. The proposed procedures generally codify the steps CBP took in debarments it issued in 2009 and 2010, which were the only times CBP has engaged in this process.

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