Everything You Need to Know About the Deportation Process

Many foreign nationals living in the U.S. have questions and fears about the deportation process. The immigration lawyers at Tadeo & Silva can explain and may be able to assist if you or a loved one is facing deportation.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: October 16, 2020, Last updated on: November 28, 2023.

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Understanding the Process of Deportation

Deportation is the expulsion of immigrants from a country where they do not legally reside. However, it’s often confused with other legal penalties, such as transportation and extradition, often imposed upon immigrants.

The following quote from Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 697, at 709 (1893) helps clear up this distinction:

“Transportation, extradition, and deportation, although each has the effect of removing a person from the country, are different things, and have different purposes. Transportation is by way of punishment of one convicted of an offense against the laws of the country. Extradition is the surrender to another country of one accused of an offense against its laws, there to be tried, and, if found guilty, punished. Deportation is the removal of an alien out of the country, simply because his presence is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare and without any punishment being imposed or contemplated either under the laws of the country out of which he is sent or of those of the country to which he is taken.”

The U.S. may also deport immigrants or foreign nationals who commit a crime or violate their visas. A person who comes to the U.S. without travel papers or forged documents may be deported without a hearing. Others usually must go before an immigration judge and face longer removal proceedings. No matter the situation, having a strong legal advocate is essential.

When facing the deportation process, you can count on Tadeo & Silva’s immigration lawyers to fight for your future.

Understanding the Deportation Process section

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What to Do When Facing Immigration Deportation

The removal proceedings typically begin when an illegal immigrant is arrested for another crime. Depending on the severity of the crime, police can share the arrest information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The United States government may also initiate removal proceedings against individuals who broke immigration laws.

If you are stopped and arrested for breaking immigration law, the most important thing to remember is not to sign anything, as you may inadvertently give up your rights. Another good idea is to make sure a trusted family member has copies of your immigration paperwork. If you have not found an attorney by the time of your hearing, request more time. Do not concede or admit guilt.

Before you are removed from the U.S., you may be given the option to leave on your own. For example, if you are suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, committing certain crimes, or remaining after the expiration of your visa, you’ll receive a document called a Notice to Appear. That means a removal proceeding is being initiated against you.

When you appear before an immigration court judge, he or she may grant a voluntary departure, which depends on your case’s circumstances and whether you meet eligibility criteria. Those individuals who get voluntary departure may leave the U.S. and go to their home country.

If you have any questions about deportation, contact the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. If you believe your rights have been violated, contact the Department of Homeland Security and file a complaint. If you are facing deportation, you may be able to adjust your immigration status and become a lawful permanent resident or obtain citizenship and a green card with the help of our attorneys.

How to Know if You Have a Deportation Order

If you would like to know if you have a deportation order, also known as an order of removal, follow these steps:

  1. Find your Alien Registration Number (A#) by looking at the I-94 card attached to your passport or other immigration document. It will look like A99 999 999.
  2. Call the hotline for the immigration court at 1-800-898-7180 and choose “1” for English or “2” for Spanish.
  3. Enter your A# when prompted.
  4. Listen for instructions.

If the hotline tells you you have a deportation order, consult an experienced immigration attorney for legal advice and advocacy. You should not try to leave the country, adjust your status, or go to the immigration office without legal assistance.

How to Know if You Have Deportation Order

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How Does Deportation Work?

The deportation process begins when a foreign national is stopped and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) routinely asks immigrants about their status – whether they were born in the U.S. or have a lawful permanent resident status. It can happen anywhere, but it’s more common at bus stations, courthouses, homes, and businesses.

Additionally, most people voluntarily give information about their nationality and immigration history when they apply for a new status. This can happen up to applying for a lawful permanent resident or citizen. When USCIS denies their application, the agency can tell ICE the person broke immigration laws or does not have legal status.

When detained by law enforcement, if a person admits they were not born here and have no immigration status, they will be arrested. If this happens to you, it is crucial that you evoke your right to remain silent so as not to incriminate yourself further, then seek legal counsel immediately.

ICE and local law enforcement often work together – this includes sheriffs, police, and highway patrol, who are sometimes given the authority to act as ICE and make arrests for immigration violations. This means people may be transferred to ICE by the local police, or ICE may arrest them upon their release from custody. Sometimes, jails will allow ICE to go through and look for unlawful immigrants.

Deportation or Removal Proceedings Timeline

How long it takes an immigrant facing removal to be deported depends on several factors, namely their country of origin and whether they obtain an attorney. An immigration attorney can often delay the proceedings by filing an appeal.

ICE must have the required approval documents from the home country before an individual can be deported. For example, people from countries like Mexico are typically deported very quickly. In fact, they may be back in Mexico within one or two weeks of a judge ruling that they will be deported. There are some countries, however, where the immigrant may never be able to be deported. This is usually because ICE cannot get the paperwork to deport them.


Alternatives to the ICE Deportation


If a person cannot be deported within ninety days of the deportation order being issued, they may be given a supervised release. They must complete a post-order custody review or POCR to provide ICE with additional information.

If you know a foreign national who has completed a POCR, you can help by gathering documents that show they are not a danger to the community, show they have family ties, community letters, and letters from employers or friends. It is also a good idea to submit a letter to the country of origin’s consulate and request a travel document. This proves the immigrant is cooperating with ICE. Keep a copy of this and submit it. Do not request travel documents if the immigrant fears returning to that country or has been granted asylum, relief under the Convention Against Torture, or refugee status.

If ICE denies the release of an immigrant through POCR, the immigrant can seek to be released by a habeas corpus petition during a federal court hearing. A habeas corpus petition will determine if the immigrant is lawfully held.

The Supreme Court has previously stated that ICE must release an immigrant if their deportation is not foreseeable. It is best if a deportation/removal defense attorney files any petitions and helps you with your case because they can expertly navigate the murky waters of immigration law.


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Deportation Process Timeline

Atlanta City Removal Expertise

Experienced in helping detainees get back to their families. Contact our team of trusted immigration attorneys in Atlanta.

Types of Deportation Proceedings

The most common way that immigrants are deported is through removal proceedings, which begin when ICE formally accuses the non-citizen of being removable. The U.S. government does this when it believes the individual is either in the U.S. without appropriate documentation, has violated the terms of a green card or visa, or has committed an offense that bars them from staying in the United States.

If you are placed in removal proceedings, you will be scheduled to appear in front of an immigration judge, who will then choose whether to order your official deportation. Your first hearing is called the Master Calendar Hearing, and that would be the first time you appear in immigration court before an immigration judge. It allows defendants to make a plea to the immigration courts as a response to the Notice to Appear.

At the merit hearing, the immigrant and their attorney can present arguments for defense against the removal process, also known as a relief. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether the immigrant can be granted relief or decline to grant relief and issue a removal order. Even at that point, everything is not lost. In fact, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals.


Expedited Removal

Another path to deportation is what is called expedited removal. The government starts expedited elimination proceedings against foreign nationals who remain in the United States without documentation or have misrepresented facts to acquire U.S. admission.

The removal process is influenced by several factors, including previous removal and the length of time an undocumented immigrant has been in the United States. If the defendant has been ordered to be removed, immigration authorities may act on that order immediately.

However, you can only be subject to expedited removal procedures if you are at a port of entry or entered the U.S. unlawfully and can not prove that you have been in the United States for at least two years.

In expedited removal proceedings, you will not see an immigration judge. Instead, an immigration officer will choose whether you need to be deported. This process usually happens quickly and takes place without an immigration court hearing. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney if you are facing expedited removal proceedings because they may be able to help delay or even stop the deportation process.

Contact an Immigration Attorney for Help with Deportation Proceedings

Being placed in deportation proceedings can severely impact your ability to remain in or ultimately return to the United States. To learn whether your deportation can be prevented, contact an immigration attorney at Tadeo & Silva today to schedule a consultation.

Our team of experienced attorneys has helped numerous individuals with their deportation proceedings and is dedicated to fighting for your rights. We have a thorough understanding of the immigration laws and procedures and can provide you with knowledgeable representation throughout every stage of your case.

Begin taking steps towards preserving your right to remain in the U.S. by scheduling a consultation with our skilled legal team today.

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