The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 sets forth a number of grounds for the deportation (also called “removal”) of persons who are not citizens of the United States.
You’ll learn the legal grounds for deportation, and you’ll also learn where you can get help if you or someone you love is at risk for deportation.
Persons are removed from the U.S. primarily for three reasons.
If you are in this country without legal authorization, if you have been convicted of a crime, or if you have committed any kind of fraud, you are at risk for deportation.
You could be taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported without a hearing – sometimes within 24 hours of being arrested.
An immigrant is in the U.S. without legal permission if he or she:
- did not obtain permission to enter
- was inadmissible at the time of entry or at the time of adjustment of status
- has had his or her admission terminated or revoked
- did not maintain the status under which he or she was admitted
- was noncompliant with any term or condition of entry
- intentionally assisted or encouraged another immigrant to enter the U.S. unlawfully
- obtained a visa or another legal document through fraud
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO A DEPORTATION HEARING?
Lawful permanent residents – that is, green card holders – and those who hold certain visas including K-1 fiancé/fiancée visas or F-1 student visas have the right to a deportation hearing, and they have the right to appeal a deportation decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Anyone who is scheduled for a deportation hearing should seek the representation and advice that a Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.
Which crimes can get someone deported?
- drug crimes
- firearms crimes
- aggravated felonies
- domestic violence
- crimes of “moral turpitude”
A crime is “particularly serious” under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 if it is an aggravated felony punishable upon conviction with a prison sentence of five or more years.
For the purposes of immigration law, a “conviction” includes more than findings of guilt and more than guilty or no contest pleas.
It is important to understand what is considered a “conviction” by immigration authorities.
WHAT ELSE IS CONSIDERED THE EQUIVALENT OF A CONVICTION?
A conviction that has been expunged, or a conviction that has been vacated after the completion of a pretrial diversion program, for example, may still be considered a criminal conviction by immigration authorities.
That’s why it is imperative for anyone who is an immigrant in the U.S. to fight any criminal charge or accusation – with an attorney’s help – and to avoid accepting any plea bargain that would constitute a conviction for a deportable crime.
In fact, confessing to the authorities anything at all that might constitute a crime – even as part of a plea bargain arrangement – might be considered grounds for removal.
By law, an immigrant could even be removed for intentionally failing to notify immigration authorities about moving to a new address, but if that is the only violation, an immigration attorney can probably help an immigrant avoid deportation.
CAN YOU BE DEPORTED FOR DRUG ABUSE – EVEN WITH NO CONVICTION?
Immigrants who are known to abuse drugs and immigrants who are addicted to any controlled substance may be deported even without a formal criminal conviction for a drug crime.
Any immigrant who attempts to commit a drug crime or who conspires to commit a drug crime – other than a single charge of possession of thirty grams or less of cannabis for personal consumption – may be removed, even if that individual is not himself or herself a drug user.
A DUI conviction – even a misdemeanor DUI conviction with no damages or injuries – can also make an immigrant deportable.
If you entered the United States on a student visa, a work visa, or a tourist visa, you absolutely must avoid driving under the influence.
Even if you already hold a green card, it could possibly be revoked as the result of a DUI conviction.
Many types of fraud are also grounds for removal, particularly any fraud that involves immigration itself, including:
- a fraudulent marriage solely to acquire a green card
- falsely representing U.S. citizenship to acquire employment or a government benefit
- altering, forging, or using a forged document to acquire a government benefit
CAN U.S. CITIZENS EVER BE DEPORTED?
Citizens of the United States who were once immigrants cannot be deported, with one exception; if someone used fraud to acquire a green card and then to obtain U.S. citizenship, that person may be removed.
If you are at risk for deportation because of alleged drug use, a DUI conviction, or a fraud allegation, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can review your case, protect your rights, and advocate on your behalf before the immigration authorities.
When the immigration authorities decide to deport someone, they will usually conduct an investigation, make an arrest, and schedule a removal proceeding.
The immigrant will receive a “Notice to Appear” from ICE.
At a removal hearing, an immigration judge will hear arguments from both the immigrant’s lawyer and from lawyers representing the immigration authorities and arguing for the immigrant’s deportation.
HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?
If you should receive a Notice to Appear for a removal proceeding, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can investigate your circumstances and options, provide honest legal advice, prepare you for your appearance before an immigration judge, and work for the best possible resolution of your case.
Receiving a Notice to Appear does not automatically mean that you will be deported.
Every case is different.
Particularly if you are a battered spouse, or if your deportation would impose an economic hardship on your family members here in the United States, tell your immigration attorney at your first consultation.
Experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva sums up what immigrants need to be aware of to avoid the risk of deportation: “Stay clear of criminal charges. Do not drive without authorization. Pay your parking and other tickets. Do not get into domestic violence confrontations. Do not claim to be a U.S. citizen until you actually take the oath.”
The details of U.S. immigration law are changing and evolving almost daily, so it is imperative for anyone who faces possible deportation to speak with a good immigration attorney before appearing at any immigration hearing or accepting any “deal” from the government.
The threat of deportation can be frightening and intimidating, but a good immigration attorney will see to it that you are fully informed regarding the law and that your legal rights are fully protected.