What is Deportation?

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Deportation is the process of removing someone from the United States. People can be removed for a variety of reasons, including criminal activity, overstaying their visa or being found to be in the country without proper authorization. People can also be removed because they are part of a group or class that has been targeted for deportation.

Deported individuals may return to their home countries or remain in the United States, depending on their circumstances. A deported individual must regain legal status in order to stay in the United States, and the immigration process usually requires many hearings before an individual can gain legal status again.

A deportation case starts when an individual comes to the attention of immigration officials. This might happen if an individual applies for an immigration benefit and is denied. It could also happen if a person is arrested and their fingerprints are checked against immigration databases. If the fingerprints match and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has probable cause to believe that the noncitizen is deportable, ICE will send the LEA a request for them to continue to hold the individual longer than they normally would by using a program called Secure Communities. Compliance with these requests is voluntary, and many LEAs refuse to honor them.

Once ICE has determined that an individual is subject to removal, they will schedule a hearing with an immigration judge. During this hearing, the individual will have the opportunity to argue why they should be allowed to stay in the United States or, in the alternative, why they should be sent back to their home country. The judge will issue a decision at the end of the hearing or later. If the decision is negative, an individual will be issued a deportation order.

Some individuals are placed in expedited removal proceedings instead of seeing an immigration judge. This occurs if they are at a port of entry or have been in the United States for more than two years without being granted legal status. These cases are typically heard by an immigration officer who will make a determination about whether an individual should be deported.

Individuals who are ordered removed from the United States must leave by a certain date. They can either travel to their home country before the expiration of their visa or be flown back to their home country by ICE Air Operations. Those who are unable to return to their home country can apply for discretionary relief by filing a request with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Being deported can have a profound impact on people’s lives. Those who are removed often have to rebuild their lives from scratch in their native countries, sometimes with limited or no support from family members. Those who are left behind are often forced to live without the income they earned and may lose their access to health care and other services. Some are even relegated to the shadows of society where they become invisible to others.