A United States Port of Entry


In the United States, deportation refers to the removal of a foreign national who has violated U.S. immigration law. Both documented and undocumented foreign nationals can be deported, so it is important to be aware of immigration law and meeting its requirements.

How does deportation work?

Depending on the situation, a foreign national may be held in a detention center before going to a removal hearing or being deported. The hearing, or trial, will be conducted in immigration court in front of the United States Department of Justice. If the judge rules that the individual must be deported, the country receiving the deported individual must agree to take them in and must arrange travel documents. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (also known as ICE) will then transport the individual, usually by air.

If you are being deported, you may be able to leave the U.S. on your own prior to the completion of removal proceedings. You may file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security if you believe any civil rights were violated during your immigration, detention, or removal processes. Undocumented immigrants may be able to adjust their status and get a green card through a family member’s petition, through the Convention Against Torture (CAT), or through asylum. You may also be able to request a delay or suspension of your removal if you fear danger or persecution from your home country upon your return. Some deportation rulings can even be appealed. It is important to contact an immigration attorney when facing deportation so you can review all your options and receive good representation.

Deportation and Crime

Violation of immigration law is the main means by which individuals are deported, but violating other U.S. laws can also put you at risk for removal. If you are here without documentation, there is little that can be done and you may be removed within 24 hours. If, however, you are a documented foreign national with a student or fiancé visa, you are entitled to a hearing. Contact an immigration attorney from Cornerstone Law Firm for help with appealing decisions.

What crimes can get you deported?

Before listing the crimes, it is important to note that some criminal convictions will make you ineligible for residency or citizenship in the United States. This means that, should you be deported, you will be unable to legally return to the U.S. It is vital to fight criminal convictions with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. It is also important to avoid making plea deals without assessing these collateral consequences. Criminal defense lawyers with experience in immigration law can help you to avoid convictions or deals that will lead to deportation.

Crimes that can lead to deportation include:

  • Aggravated felonies;
  • Fraud (especially immigration-related fraud);
  • Drug-related crimes;
  • Firearm offenses;
  • Domestic violence; or
  • Crimes involving moral turpitude (dishonesty or depraved/vile conduct)
    • Examples include (but are not limited to) murder, aggravated assault, rape, embezzlement, burglary, and robbery.

What is Rapid REPAT?

Individuals who are not U.S. citizens and have committed non-violent crimes may be eligible for Rapid REPAT. REPAT stands for Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer. Rapid REPAT allows certain incarcerated non-citizens early release in exchange for returning to their country of origin voluntarily. If deportation is unavoidable, this may be a better option than serving the full length of the prison sentence.

To be eligible for REPAT, you must:

  • Be a criminal foreign national that is at least 18 years old;
  • Agree to participate in ICE Rapid REPAT of your own accord;
  • Be imprisoned after receiving a conviction for certain non-violent crimes;
  • Exhaust or agree to waive rights to contest your conviction;
  • Agree to fully cooperate with getting travel documents in writing; and
  • Be advised that re-entering the United States means you will be placed back in the state’s custody and serve the remainder of your sentence.

Unlawful Immigrants

Individuals who immigrate to the United States through unlawful means do not have many rights. They are not entitled to a removal hearing and can be sent back to their country of origin within 24 hours. It is important to understand the proper immigration requirements to avoid being here unlawfully.

You are considered unlawful if:

  • You do not have permission to enter the United States;
  • You are inadmissible at the time you entered or adjusted your status;
  • Your admission to the United States has been revoked or terminated;
  • You have not maintained the status under which you were admitted;
  • You failed to meet a condition of entry to the U.S.;
  • You assisted another alien with unlawful entry;
  • You obtained any of your immigration documentation through means of fraud; or
  • You failed to notify the U.S. of a change of address (this one can usually be remedied without deportation).

If you are facing deportation as an unlawful immigrant, there may be ways to waive certain conditions. Talk to an immigration attorney to review your options.

Deportation Defense

Cornerstone Law Firm has attorneys that can help you when you’re at risk for deportation. Contact us for representation in removal hearings, or for help with defending against criminal charges that could lead to permanent removal from the U.S.