What Is Deportation and How Can I Avoid It?

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Deportation is a process by which a government removes someone from the country, usually because they have committed a crime or do not have a right to be in the country. This includes those who have violated the terms of their visa or other status, people who appear to be a security threat, and other reasons.

How Can I Avoid Being Deported?

The most common path toward removal is to be formally accused of being removable and placed into “removal proceedings.” This is done by the government when it believes that you are in the United States without proper documentation, you’ve committed a violation of the terms of your visa or other status, or you pose a security risk.

Once you’ve been put into removal proceedings, the only way to avoid being deported is to have a hearing before an immigration judge. The judge can either order you to return home or let you stay in the country while you defend yourself against the charges.

What are the consequences of being deported?

In the United States, most deportees face a five, ten, or 20-year ban on returning to the country. The length of the ban is based on the specific reasons for their deportation, which may include aggravated felony charges and other serious offenses. In addition, some deportees have been convicted of a misdemeanor or other non-criminal offense and have been ordered to pay restitution for their misdeeds.

Some deportees have been able to get a waiver of their ban, and others have been denied such a waiver. However, these cases often require significant litigation and may take years to resolve.

The significance of the harm inflicted by a deportation will vary greatly depending on the person being deported and other factors, including her health, the social, political, and economic conditions of the receiving country, and her connection to that country. As a result, the extent to which the state’s objectives outweigh the harms inflicted by the deportation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

A harm-based approach can be helpful here because it enables us to account for the variety of normatively salient claims that seek to legitimate or delegitimate a particular case of deportation. It also explains better when and why legitimate states permissibly inflict harm through deportation, and when and why such harm constitutes impermissible wronging.

This is especially important in deportation enforcement, which often violates basic human rights, and a harm-based approach can help to weigh these violations against the broader context of the harms inflicted by the retaliation that follows from deportation.

Brock’s criticism of a reliance on human rights practice is valid in this context. But it is not sufficient, for it does not adequately account for the many other factors that influence when and why harmful deportations are permissible and when and why they are not.

The necessity and proportionality of the harm-inflicted by deportation can be evaluated based on a broad calculus that appropriately evaluates the forcefulness of all normatively salient claims that seek to justify or delegitimize a particular case of deportation, and relate such claims to one another. A harm-based approach thus explains better when and why legitimate states permissibly deportees, and when and why such deportation can be justified by other means.