Deportation affects millions of people – not only those who are deported, but also their families and communities. It alters their lives and can impact the way they see their future in this country. Deportation can occur when the government deems someone unfit to remain in the United States, often based on their immigration status or criminal history. The term has a broad meaning and has been used historically to mean banishment from a territory or the transportation of prisoners to penal settlements. In the present day, it means the removal by executive agency of a noncitizen from the United States.
The deportation process starts when the Department of Homeland Security, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), formally accuses someone of being removable or inadmissible. This is usually done by sharing fingerprints with local law enforcement agencies via programs like Secure Communities and having ICE check to see whether that person has been previously arrested for a crime or has any pending cases in which they are the defendant. If the agency believes that the person may be subject to removal, they will serve the noncitizen with a Notice to Appear in removal proceedings.
When the ICE representative files the Notice to Appear, they must notify the noncitizen that they are being placed into removal proceedings and that they have the right to have an attorney represent them at each hearing. The ICE representative must also provide at least 10 days’ notice to each party of the date of the initial hearing, which is known as a master calendar hearing. The ICE representative will also determine whether the noncitizen qualifies for expedited removal. If they do, they will proceed with the case without a preliminary hearing.
If the ICE representative decides that the noncitizen does not qualify for expedited removal, they will serve them with an individual hearing date. During this hearing, the judge will review the evidence presented and listen to any testimony that is provided. The judge will then determine if the person should be ordered removed from the country.
The most common grounds for deportation are that the person is an illegal alien (not holding a valid visa), they have committed a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony, such as murder, rape, and other crimes involving violence, drug offenses, and fraud. However, there are many other reasons that an Immigration Judge could order a noncitizen to be deported.
The noncitizen has the right to appeal the judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, but it is very important that they do so within 30 days of the order. In some situations, the judge may reopen the case if they believe there was a miscarriage of justice or new information has come to light that could impact the outcome of the case.