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Deportation and Removal

Deportation (also called "removal") happens when the federal government formally removes a noncitizen from the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducts removal proceedings through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). ICE may formally remove an immigrant from the U.S. for various reasons. Among them are violations of immigration conditions or the commission of certain criminal acts.

A deported noncitizen often loses the right to return to the United States. These processes and conditions are part of the deportation proceedings. In some cases, a noncitizen may face expedited removal proceedings. This happens when the government finds that the noncitizen has committed serious criminal acts or violations of immigration laws.

A noncitizen subjected to deportation has certain rights before removal from the United States. These rights include challenging the removal proceedings on constitutional or procedural grounds. This step may involve court hearings. A "Master Calendar Hearing" is the first hearing.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) supervises the master calendar hearing. A noncitizen may also apply for cancellation of removal or waiver depending on each circumstance.

Classes of Deportable Aliens

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plays a vital role in the immigration system. This government agency manages every step of legal immigration, from visa application to U.S. citizen application. The USCIS also outlines who can be considered for removal or deportation proceedings. A noncitizen in the United States may be subject to deportation or removal if they:

  • Are considered an inadmissible alien according to immigration laws in effect at the time of entry to the U.S. or change of nonimmigrant status
  • Terminate a lawful permanent residence, also known as green card status
  • Encourage or aid any other alien to enter the U.S. illegally
  • Engage in marriage fraud to gain admission to the U.S.
  • Fail to register or falsify documents relating to entry into the U.S.
  • Engage in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a risk to national security
  • Involvement in illegal voting

A noncitizen committing any of these acts could affect their status change or U.S. citizen application.

Deportation or Removal Process

The deportation or removal process can be a complex legal procedure. It could involve various government agencies and many stages. The process usually begins when the government sends a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA can provide information about hearings and potential forms of relief. The following contains an overview of what the deportation or removal process looks like:

  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issues the NTA. The NTA is then served to the noncitizen and filed with the immigration court. The NTA also states the reasons for the deportation or removal.
  • The noncitizen has to appear at a scheduled hearing. During the hearing, an immigration judge asks if the noncitizen is ready to proceed with the case or needs time to hire an attorney. If the noncitizen needs time to hire an attorney, the judge will schedule another hearing for later.
  • Once the noncitizen has an attorney or has chosen to proceed without one, the immigration judge will ask the noncitizen to verify the contents of the NTA.
  • Suppose the judge determines that the information in the NTA is accurate and that the noncitizen can be deported. In that case, they may apply for relief from deportation, such as deferred action (DACA), voluntary departure, or withholding of removal proceedings. The court schedules a hearing if the alien is eligible for relief and decides to apply for it. If the alien is not suitable, an order of removal will be issued. This will start the deportation process.
  • If there is an individual hearing, the lawful permanent resident can give testimony and have family members or other witnesses testify on their behalf. After the hearing, the immigration judge will either make an oral decision or release a written decision later.

If the alien has been ordered deported, the alien has 30 days from the decision date to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). A noncitizen's eligibility for such an appeal may depend on several factors. This includes:

  • Prior criminal convictions
  • The nature of the case
  • The noncitizen's immigration status

Law enforcement agencies and the USCIS work together in handling the immigration process and upholding immigration law. An appellate court decision can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by either the alien or the immigration service.

Seek Legal Help with Your Deportation Case

Deportation can be distressing for many immigrants, particularly if they do not have anyone to return to in their home country. If you or someone you know are facing deportation or removal, find an experienced immigration attorney near you. They can assist you with the immigration proceedings and give you the legal advice you need for your case. They can also offer legal services to help you understand your rights and situation. To learn more about immigration law, FindLaw offers easy-to-understand articles about this topic. There is also a directory of immigration law attorneys in each state. You can also visit the USCIS website for updates and detailed information about immigration laws.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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