People have a common conception of deportation as what happens when an individual is removed from the United States by federal immigration authorities. Essentially, Deportation means Removal. However, the preferred technical term is “removal,” rather than “deportation.”


What Are My Options?

There are a variety of circumstances under which U.S. immigration authorities can require that an individual depart from the country. They can range from being caught by officers while attempting to cross the border into the United States and being immediately returned, to being detained as an alien, to being ordered to depart once an immigration court case has been denied – even after multiple appeals in some cases. If you are facing removal/deportation, you may have certain options which could allow you to avoid removal. For more information on possible defenses to removal, read our informational page:

  • Deportation and Removal Defense

Which Government Agencies Handle Removals or Deportations?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the agency at the forefront when it comes to handling enforcement of immigration laws. Everyday matters for immigrants, such as processing of applications, which occasionally turns into removal proceedings for aliens when applications turned out not to be successful, are handled by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR, takes care of immigration court proceedings, in which people who are not citizens can defend themselves and establish that they have the right to stay in the country rather than be removed.

Who Can Immigration Authorities Remove?

Immigrant individuals who are eligible for deportation are commonly known as illegal aliens. This term can refer individuals who have crossed the border into the country illegally in addition to individuals who have had temporary, or non-immigrant, visas, and stayed longer than they were permitted. There are many illegal aliens that come into the U.S .every year who are removed. However, these are not the only aliens who can face deportation.

What Are the Guidelines for Removal?

Any immigrant who fails to abide by the terms of stay can be deported. This could include tourists who accept jobs when they are not allowed to do so, or individuals on student visa who do not pursue full time study.
Additionally, immigrants who have not yet become citizens, including permanent residents, or holders of “green cards”, can potentially be removed if they do something within the “grounds of deportability” according to federal immigration law.

What Are the Grounds of Deportability?

Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) details the grounds of deportability. Non-citizens can be deported if they care charged with committing any of the following:

  • Aggravated felony.
  • Crime of moral turpitude.
  • Domestic violence.

This list also includes other similar crimes within five years of receiving a green card or being admitted to the country, if the prison sentence is a minimum of a year. Two crimes of moral turpitude could make an individual deportable if they are both committed within 5 years of receiving a green card or being admitted to the country, and they are not both part of the same scheme of criminal misconduct. Examples of criminal misconduct can include
Neglecting to inform USCIS of a change of address within 10 days of the move.

  • Committing marriage fraud.
  • Helping to smuggle other aliens into the country.
  • Abusing drugs or being convicted of a serious drug-related violation.
  • Committing document fraud.
  • Claiming U.S. citizenship falsely.

This list only includes some examples and is not comprehensive. You should not depend solely on this list for your own case. If you or a loved one is facing any serious conviction that could result in removal/deportation, it is crucial to consult with a licensed immigration lawyer.

What Are My Rights If I Am Facing Removal?

Non-citizens have rights to attorneys, as well as other rights outlined in federal law. An individual cannot be deported without the opportunity to state his or her case. Authorities will often try to expedite the process and ask immigrants to sign documents agreeing to leave without a hearing. There are cases where immigrants are in the country illegally with no defense and in these cases, voluntarily departing the country could be a viable option in order to avoid having deportation on one’s record. However, it is not recommended that any individual sign any official legal document or appear in court without reliable legal assistance due to the gravity of the situation.

Rights and Refusals

A non-citizen who has not yet entered the country will not be entitled to the same rights, and they could be forced into expedited removal. Essentially, this individual can be refused entry unless a legitimate fear of persecution in the home country can be proven.  Immigrants located outside of the United States during this claim may be eligible for refugee status. An immigrant who has entered illegally but fears persecution in their home country may be a candidate for asylum. To learn more about asylum, review our informational page:

Immigration Court Proceedings

Immigration court proceedings are not always as formal, and typical rules of evidence do not always apply apply. An attorney will be representing USCIS, and the attorney and judge are allowed question the immigrant. Both the defending and prosecuting attorneys will be able to enlist witnesses who can testify. Because immigration court operates using unique rules, it is essential to have an immigration lawyer who has experience in the courtroom representing your best interests.

Asylum Hearings

The hearing will go on as long as necessary for all the evidence to be presented and heard. The judge can give a ruling at the end of the hearing, or afterwards. If removal is chosen, an order of removal will be issued. This will be final when the individual has foregone time for appeal. Appeals can be made first to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), then through the federal court system.

We Are Ready to Help You!

Facing removal/deportation is a serious situation which can effect your short-term and long-term future. It is not recommended for any individual to participate in court proceedings without the support of a qualified immigration lawyer. Entrusting your case to a reliable immigration lawyer ensures the best result possible. If you are facing removal, call KPPB Law today or, send us a message online to tell us about your case. We are able to provide a consultation so that you understand what your best option is.

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