How Does Deportation Work?

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Deportation is the official expulsion by an authority of a foreigner from the country to which they belong. Traditionally, it is a criminal punishment that results in a prison sentence or even death but has more recently been applied to non-criminals who are deemed to be a threat to the state, and the government also expels immigrants when they violate immigration law. The process is complicated and a matter of both state and federal law. This is why the American Immigration Council produces a wide range of resources for attorneys to help them understand how it works, and what it can mean for their clients.

Our immigration laws allow us to bring in people who are vital contributors to our economy. We rely on them as workers, consumers and taxpayers. However, a misstep or crime can put an immigrant at risk of being thrown out of the country and separated from their families, and deportation is often used as a tool for political gain. The Trump administration has ramped up immigration arrests inside the United States, while scapegoating millions of unauthorized immigrants for violent or old crimes and painting them as a danger to society. This crackdown has led to a surge in deportations and sparked international outrage over the way people’s lives are being destroyed by the Trump administration’s policies.

ICE’s Removal Data Tools

TRAC’s ICE removal data tools contain individual records for every recorded deportation made by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division. This includes deportations that were ordered by an immigration judge and those that resulted from an apprehension at a port of entry by Customs and Border Protection and a subsequent transfer to ICE for removal proceedings. The ERO tools also record voluntary departures and returns.

Status at Latest Entry into the U.S. The ERO data tools contain a record of the category that ICE placed the individual into when they most recently entered the United States. This could be a legal permanent resident, an undocumented immigrant, a person seeking asylum, a visa waiver program participant, or a parolee. It could also be present without admission, or an apprehension by federal, state or local law enforcement officers in cooperation with ICE.

ICE records whether the individual was removed under expedited or regular deportation procedures. ICE also records whether the removal was carried out under a reinstatement of a previous order and/or a discretionary grant of executive relief. TRAC is pursuing FOIA litigation against ICE to request a more complete breakdown of the information in these tools. This broader information is available in our More Complete Historical Data tool. TRAC will update these tools as they become more comprehensive. Please check back regularly for new data. You can also subscribe to receive a monthly email with the latest data. You can change your subscription preferences in our Settings page. TRAC’s ICE removal data tools are powered by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.