What is Deportation?

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Deportation is the removal from a country by government authorities of a non-citizen who is found to have committed a criminal offense, violated immigration laws, or otherwise lacks legal status to be in the country. The process is complex, both legally and socially. Deportation has a deep impact on families, communities, and the nation as a whole.

Deported individuals are removed from the country, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Generally, a person who is deported is not allowed to return to the United States for 10 years or more. However, some people who have been deported can apply to reenter the country sooner, as long as they have not committed any serious crimes and have met certain other requirements.

The term deportation is a Latin word meaning “to banish,” and it has had many historical connotations, including the transportation of criminals to penal settlements in foreign countries. In Roman law, deportation was a punishment for political crimes, and it also applied to those who committed adultery, murder, poisoning, forgery, or other serious criminal offenses. Deportation is the act by an executive agency of a nation state that expels a foreign national from its territory, either voluntarily or involuntarily. In modern times, the term deportation most commonly refers to the expulsion of a non-citizen from the United States for violating its laws or lacking legal status.

Immigration attorneys can help individuals in deportation proceedings defend themselves against the government’s claim that they should be removed. They can help clients prove that they have not been convicted of a criminal offense (or that their crime was not serious enough to warrant deportation), and that they have good moral character. They can also show that their removal would cause extreme hardship to a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse, parent, or child.

A deportation or removal proceeding typically starts when a DHS official serves an individual with a Notice to Appear (NTA). This document will list the date of their first hearing, which is also known as a master calendar hearing. Individuals should bring their attorney with them to this hearing, which will be held before an immigration judge in an immigration court.

The deportation process can move rapidly, particularly in cases where an individual is attempting to cross the border illegally. Under a 1996 system called expedited removal, low-level DHS officials can order deportation without the involvement of an immigration judge if they believe that the individual is inadmissible and poses a threat to national security or public safety.

In other types of removal proceedings, the non-citizen will be given a chance to present evidence and arguments before an Immigration Judge. A specialized lawyer can make sure that the deportation process is conducted fairly and in accordance with the law. It is also possible to appeal a deportation order or to have the case reopened if there is a mistake of law in the original decision or new information arises that could change the outcome of the case.