Deportation & Removal Proceedings

Deportation (also called "removal") occurs when the federal government formally removes a foreign individual from the United States for violations of a number of immigration or criminal laws. Once deported, an alien may lose the right to ever return to the United States, even as a visitor.

Removal is a legal proceeding, and the foreign individual who is subject to this procedure has legal rights prior to being removed from the U.S., including the right to challenge the removal itself on procedural or constitutional grounds.

A Notice to Appear (NTA) is issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), served to on the foreign individual, and filed with the Immigration Court. In addition to containing general information about the foreign individual (name, country of origin, etc.), the NTA also states the reasons for the deportation or removal. A hearing is scheduled, at which the Immigration Judge asks if the foreign individual is ready to proceed with the case, or if he or she needs time to secure an attorney. If the alien needs time to secure an attorney, a hearing is scheduled for a later date. Once the foreign individual has an attorney, or has elected to proceed without one, the foreign individual will be asked by the Immigration Judge to verify the contents of the NTA.

If the Immigration Judge determines that the information in the NTA is correct and that the foreign individual can be deported, the alien is given the opportunity to apply for relief from deportation. If the foreign individual is eligible for a form of relief and decides to apply for it, an individual hearing date is scheduled. If the alien is not eligible, deportation will be ordered. If an individual hearing is held, the foreign individual will be given the opportunity to give testimony and have witnesses testify on his or her behalf. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Immigration Judge will either make an oral decision on the matter, or will release a written decision at a later date.

If the foreign individual has been ordered deported, the foreign individual has 30 days from the date of the decision to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against denies the appeal, the foreign individual has the option of appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The immigration service has the opportunity to appeal an unfavorable decision by the Immigration Judge, but may not appeal an unfavorable decision by the BIA. An appellate court decision can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by either the alien or the immigration service, but most cases are not accepted by the Supreme Court.

The Obama administration deported a record 438,421 foreign individuals in 2013.