What Happens If You Are Deported?

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Unless your status is lawful permanent resident or a US citizen, you can be deported (removed from the United States) for certain types of criminal activities and national security and law enforcement issues. Your status is determined by the type of visa you have, your country of origin and your immigration history.

If you are placed in removal proceedings, you will receive a Notice to Appear, which contains an instruction to appear before an immigration judge. You may be in detention while you wait to appear before the judge.

The Judge will review the evidence, listen to your testimony and that of any witnesses and make a decision whether to order you removed from the country. If you are ordered removed, you will have a chance to appeal the Judge’s decision.

People who are removed from the United States are sent to their country of origin or another country specified by USCIS. The receiving country must agree to accept them and issue travel documents before the deportation is carried out. If the receiving country does not agree to accept them, or if the judge orders them deported for other reasons, they will remain in detention until they are freed to leave the United States.

Generally, to justify deporting someone who has been a long-term legal resident of the United States, a government agency must show that the person is not a “bona fide” or lawfully present immigrant and that their removal would be in the public interest. The immigration court’s judge will also evaluate the person’s level of involvement in a crime and any potential negative impact on community safety.

Brock writes that “over time, as people become fully integrated into ways of life, uprooting them will often cause considerable and unwarranted hardship and harm to the persons with whom they have built significant relationships.” He goes on to say that a ‘rule of law that requires states to respect and uphold human rights must recognize that this is not just a matter of fairness and good sense but a fundamental element of our shared humanity’ (Ibid).

In addition to their own loss, families of deported individuals face immense economic, emotional, and developmental challenges. Across the country, millions of children—including US citizens—live in homes with deported parents and other family members. They face the anguish of a loved one being taken away and the steep decline in household incomes that results.

Local efforts can support the wellbeing of deported and their family members, including through mental health/healing, community-building, and political engagement programs. These efforts can be enhanced by fostering supportive communities and a place of belonging, and in particular, by ending 287(g) agreements that force local police departments to act as immigration agents. This allows people to be more comfortable seeking help from their communities when they are facing deportation, and reduces the fear of being contacted by local law enforcement officials. Read our policy brief on the impact of deportations on communities here.