What Is Deportation and How Does It Affect You?

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Deportation – also known as removal – occurs when an immigration judge or immigration officer determines that you are not allowed to stay in the United States and issues an order for your departure. It can occur because you entered the country illegally, committed a criminal offense that makes you deportable, or have violated your visa or green card status. It is important to understand that simply being placed in deportation proceedings does not mean that you will be deported, and you can stop the process by proving that you are eligible to adjust your status with an Immigration Judge and that you have an available immigrant visa.

For millions of people around the world, deportation reshapes their lives and those of their families. It alters their sense of home and belonging. It erases their connections to the communities where they were born and grew up, and it removes them from the nation of their choice. It affects not only the people who are deported but also their family, friends and neighbors.

In the United States, deportation is a tool that the government uses to enforce its immigration laws and to protect the public from those who pose a threat to the safety of the community. In the past, deportation was rarely used for minor offenses or because of a person’s lack of legal status in the country. Now it is a regular part of the immigration enforcement system.

Almost anyone who is not a U.S. citizen can be placed in deportation proceedings, including people who have lived in the country legally for years and even those who are married to U.S. citizens or have children who are U.S. citizens. Deportation is often a harsh and unpleasant consequence of a criminal conviction, though it can also be the result of other actions such as failing to report a change of address or lying on an immigration form.

The number of people deported in fiscal year 2022 is the second lowest for the agency since its inception, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and new Biden administration rules that narrowed the population of immigrants agents were instructed to target for arrest and deportation. Those policies are now on hold pending the outcome of litigation challenging their constitutionality.

If you have been placed in deportation proceedings, your first step is to contact an experienced immigration lawyer for help. Deportation cases can be complicated, and the timing of your case depends on a variety of factors, such as whether you are detained or not, how many immigration judges there are in your area and how busy they are, and whether you have an immigrant visa that will allow you to return when your deportation is over. If you decide to appeal the immigration judge’s decision, it may take several months or more for your appeal to be decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals. If you do not want to appeal, your deportation will become final when the allotted time for appealing is over.