Anyone who is an immigrant to the United States can face deportation back to their country of origin under certain circumstances. U.S. immigration law clearly specifies the grounds for deportation of aliens, and it also provides a clear-cut procedure for the process of deporting a person from the country.
The Deportation Process
The deportation process starts with the immigrant receiving a Notice to Appear issued by the Department of Homeland Security. This notice orders the immigrant to appear before an immigration judge at a specific time and day and provides information on:
- The reason for the notice
- How the person broke immigration law
- The right of the person to hire an immigration attorney at their own expense
- The consequences if the person does not appear as ordered
At the hearing, the judge may determine that the deportation order is correct and the deportation process will proceed, or the judge may find there is a reason to consider some form of relief from the order.
Grounds for Deportation
U.S. immigration law specifies classes of people who are eligible for deportation in 8 U.S. Code §1227. The classes are:
- Inadmissible aliens - These are persons who were inadmissible at the time they entered the country or at the time of an adjustment to their immigration status.
- Those present in violation of law - Those who are present in the country in violation of immigration law or those who have had their immigration status revoked are eligible for deportation.
- Those in violation of a condition of entry or non-immigration status - This refers to people who have been admitted as non-immigrants who then do not maintain their non-immigrant legal status as well as those who have failed to comply with the conditions imposed on their immigration by the DHS.
- Those with terminated conditional status - Aliens and permanent residents who are admitted to the country on a conditional status, such as business or marriage status, can be deported if there is a change in this condition.
- Smugglers - Smuggling people or assisting others in any way to enter the country illegally are grounds for deportation. There are some exemptions for those who assist family members to immigrate or who assist others for humanitarian purposes. These exemptions are at the discretion of the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Those guilty of marriage fraud - People who commit marriage fraud or who enter into marriage two years before or two years after entry for the purposes of staying in the country can be deported unless they can prove to the Attorney General that the marriage was not just for the purpose of evading immigration law.
- Those convicted of crimes - These include crimes of moral turpitude committed within five years of entry, aggravated felonies, fleeing from an immigration checkpoint, not registering as a sex offender, domestic violence and child abuse crimes, controlled substance charges, stalking, firearm offenses, and trafficking of prostitutes or weapons.
- Those who have failed to register - Falsification of documents, failure to register with immigration authorities, and failure to report a change of address are grounds for deportation unless the person can prove to the Department of Justice that the act was reasonably excusable and not willful.
- Those who are guilty of terrorism - Acts of terrorism, including membership in terrorist organizations, endorsement of terrorist activity, hijacking, assassination, threats and other acts are grounds for deportation.
Relief from Deportation
The deportation process has multiple steps and does not happen quickly in most cases. After the initial Notice to Appear, there are several weeks or months before the hearing. At the hearing, additional appearances before a judge may be ordered before a decision is reached. Once an order for removal has been issued, there is usually still some time before the person is transported out of the country.
Some common forms of relief from deportation include:
- A cancellation of the removal order by the immigration judge - This is possible if the person has lived in the U.S. for seven consecutive years, has been a legal permanent resident for five years, or has never been convicted of any serious crime, espionage, or terrorist activity.
- An adjustment of immigration status - This is when an immigrant changes status to lawful permanent resident. For example, if a person is eligible for a green card based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen but has not yet obtained it, an adjustment of status may be granted by the immigration court, stopping the deportation process.
- Relief based on prosecutorial discretion - This means the immigration judge has granted a waiver for reasons such as domestic violence, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or evidence that the immigrant’s presence in the United States does not pose any risk to national security or public safety.
- Asylum - Asylum can be granted to aliens who are considered refugees. This involves showing there is a possibility that return to the country of origin may result in torture, discrimination, or other persecution.
Other methods of relief are also possible. Immigration law attorneys can provide information and options on all forms of appeals and relief from deportation.
Additional Deportation Articles
- Deportation & Removal Law
- Your Immigration Status After a Felony
- Applying for Removal Relief
- Stay of Removal