How Deportation Affects Families and Communities

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If you’re a noncitizen in the United States, the government may have the right to deport (or remove) you. If you’re facing deportation, getting legal advice is one of the best things you can do. This guide provides an overview of the deportation process, what you can expect when you’re placed in removal proceedings, and how to help protect yourself.

Deportation is the expulsion by executive agency of a person who’s presence in a country is deemed unlawful or detrimental. The term harks back to Roman law, where it describes banishment to foreign soil and the transport of criminals to penal settlements. Since then, the practice of deportation has shifted from punishing political criminals to the removal of people who’ve committed crimes that violate a state’s moral and ethical standards.

The current administration has pursued a far more expansive and punitive approach to deportation than any other in history. It has stopped people from seeking asylum at the border, separated families, and enforced an “everyone goes home” strategy that has targeted people with minor or even unresolved immigration cases. Deportation is now happening at a record rate, and it’s harming families and communities in a way that is unprecedented.

A growing body of research has examined the impact that deportation can have on individuals and their families. This policy brief reviews the research and identifies key lessons from it.

Thousands of families are struggling to cope with the anguish and steep financial decline that follow deportation. They are a visible reminder of the Trump administration’s deep hostility toward immigration and its call to deport millions.

To address these concerns, the administration should stop deporting people who have been here for years or who have no serious criminal record. Instead, the government should focus on enforcing the laws that actually work, while protecting immigrants’ rights and encouraging entrepreneurship. It should also rethink the 287(g) agreements it uses to train local police officers, which have been criticized for undermining community trust and promoting racial profiling.

Lastly, the administration should halt its efforts to deport people who are living in peace with their neighbors, as well as its efforts to exclude people from communities of color. It should also consider ways to support local initiatives that promote economic justice, civic participation, and mental health/healing for immigrant communities. These strategies are critical to a just and prosperous society.