What is Deportation?

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Deportation is the removal, or expulsion, by an executive agency of a person who is not a citizen of a country. The word comes from a Latin phrase that means “to throw away.” It was sometimes used to mean exile, but it has since taken on a broader meaning. In the modern sense of the word, a person may be deported from the United States for breaking immigration laws or for committing other crimes.

The process for deportation varies depending on the type of crime and other factors. For example, the severity of a crime or whether it was committed while in a criminal gang can make someone deportable. The type of visa or status a non-citizen holds can also influence the likelihood that they will be removed from the country.

The government does not deport people without giving them a chance to fight the charge. Usually, non-citizens are placed into “removal proceedings” when ICE formally accuses them of being deportable. Immigration judges hold one or more hearings to decide whether a person should be deported. The process for removing a person from the United States can take years.

During an individual hearing, the immigration judge listens to arguments about why you should stay in the country. The immigration judge will also review any evidence presented, such as a report from a social worker or expert witness. If the judge orders you to be deported, the government will prepare your travel documents and arrange for your departure.

If you lose your hearing you can appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. This is a separate process from appealing the judge’s original decision.

The exact timeline from the end of your hearing to your physical deportation depends on how close you are to a US border and your home country’s immigration law. For example, some countries allow for expedited removal for people who have been convicted of certain crimes.

Even though deportation can be a lengthy process, there are ways for you to avoid being deported. For example, if you have a good reason to leave the country, you can apply for voluntary departure. However, you should know that your chances of getting approved for this are very slim. The best way to avoid deportation is to get the help of a knowledgeable immigration lawyer. You can find legal services through a nonprofit organization or by contacting your local immigration court. They can help you understand your options and protect your rights throughout the removal process. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘deportation.’ Any opinions in these examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.