Despite being a term used for expulsion, deportation is actually an administrative process that is carried out by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The process begins when the government alleges that the non-citizen has violated one of the terms of his or her visa. This can be a variety of reasons, including being a green card holder, committing a crime, or having failed to report a change in address. The government then serves the individual with a Notice to Appear in removal proceedings. This includes information about the removal process, such as the types of grounds that can be used to deport the individual.
The next step is a merits hearing. At this hearing, the individual can present his or her defense to the deportation process. The hearing can last hours or days, depending on the case’s complexity. If the individual loses the merits hearing, he or she has thirty days to file an appeal. If the case is denied relief, the individual may appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals is negative, the individual has the option to appeal to the United States Supreme Court. If the decision of the United States Supreme Court is favorable, the individual will be able to remain in the United States.
If the alien has been found to be a threat to national security, the government may be able to arrest and detain him or her. If the alien is a flight risk, the government may seek higher bond amounts. If a bond is not granted, the individual will remain in custody until the removal hearings are held.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may also initiate deportation proceedings if the alien is suspected of committing a crime. These crimes may include fraud, forgery, illegal voting, illicit registration, money laundering, and crimes against another person. ICE also prioritizes the removal of illegal aliens with criminal backgrounds. The government can also detain aliens that engage in subversive activities, such as espionage or terrorist support.
Another way to avoid removal is through the asylum process. In order to qualify for this form of relief, the individual must have a credible fear of persecution based on his or her race, religion, political opinion, or membership in a social group. Asylum is also available to certain de facto citizens, such as beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Those who qualify for DACA came to the United States as toddlers.
When an individual is deported, he or she is not able to return to the United States. A deportee can apply for reentry, but the individual must have a legal basis for returning. In addition, there may be other forms of relief available to deportees. The most common form of relief is adjustment of status. However, this option is not available to people who were illegal aliens at the time of their first removal hearing.