In the United States, one of the utmost concerns for undocumented immigrants is the possibility of being deported by authorities. It is a hot issue right now. They fear being taken without the opportunity to even say goodbye to their loved ones. Many have lived in the United States for years and have made a home, complete with a job, family, and friends. The realization that this could happen is terrifying. It’s called deportation, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officially refer to it as removal. It is the legal process by which the government removes a non-citizen who is found to be in the country unlawfully, without the required documentation, or because the person has violated the terms of his immigrant status. There are officially four different kinds of removals: those issued by immigration judges, an administrative removal, an expedited removal, and a reinstatement of a prior removal order.
In some cases, deportation begins when an undocumented immigrant is arrested due to criminal charges. In other cases, deportation is just the next step after having been denied a visa or asylum. No matter why the deportation order, or removal proceedings, is carried out, the process is usually the same. Of course, if the person whose removal is ordered has been convicted of a crime, their deportation is usually placed on-hold until they’ve either been processed or served their sentence. Of course, it is always best to consult an immigration attorney for more specific details. Regardless, deportation is a scary process. Here are fifteen things that happen during the proceedings that you might not have known about.
15. Undocumented Immigrants Still Have Rights
Even undocumented immigrants still have rights in most countries. In the U.S., immigration authorities, namely the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), must follow established procedures to ensure those rights are protected. In the United States, every person, whether a citizen or not, is entitled certain rights. Those include the right to remain silent and not answer any questions, the right to an attorney, the right to refuse entry to your home without a valid warrant. Immigration attorneys advise to never open the door for an ICE agent, and if you do, that doesn’t give them permission to enter. Attorneys advise to never allow agents entry unless they present a signed search or arrest warrant naming a person residing in your home or areas that are specifically to be searched. Of course, if agents force their way in, do not resist, but maintain that you do not give consent. Always consult with an attorney for an understanding of your rights as they pertain to immigration issues.
14. Deportation Can Sometimes Be A Long Process
Deportation is a bureaucratic process and bureaucracies are slow and tedious. There are numerous hearings and court proceedings and, unless all this has already taken place before being taken into custody, a deportee can expect to remain in limbo for months or even years. Normally, you will first receive an NTA (Notice to Appear). In the United States, both ICE and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are responsible for deportations. Both agencies fall under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The NTA alleges that you’ve done something to warrant your removal and must present yourself to the federal immigration court. You’ll have an initial hearing, which is usually quick and procedural. Then, later there will be a merits hearing where the judge will hear evidence against you and you can offer a defence or call witnesses. If the judge orders your removal, you can then file an appeal.
13. You Better Hope You Paid Your Taxes
In the United States, even undocumented immigrants still have to pay taxes. Those without a Social Security Number can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that will allow them to pay their taxes. Information received by the IRS is supposed to be confidential and used only for tax purposes. As such, this information is reportedly not shared with other government agencies. If you are found to not have paid taxes, that is legal grounds for an expedited removal. Even drug dealers are legally supposed to pay taxes for their ill-gotten profits. Remember the notorious gangster Al Capone? They got him for not paying his taxes, not for all the murders and other crimes he committed. If ICE has no legal grounds to ask for your deportation, don’t give them one by not paying your taxes.
12. A Deportation Hearing Is Not A Criminal Case
What this means is that you have no guarantee to free lawyer assistance. You can hire an attorney, and they recommend it, but one will not be provided for you if you cannot afford it. There is an exception where you may be assigned a lawyer, free of charge, if the absence of an attorney would make the proceedings unfair towards you. This applies to children, as well. Around 40% of children facing deportation have hearings on their own, without the presence of their parents. A Syracuse University study found that 90% of these children who don’t have attorney assistance are deported. Of those who did have attorney-assistance, only 50% were deported. It is always safer to have a trained immigration attorney working on your side. Some non-profit groups will work with you if you cannot afford legal representation, or at the least will offer some initial legal advice.
11. Immigrants Are Regularly Deported With Only The Clothes On Their Back!
Deportees are sent back with only what ICE allows you to carry. In many cases, that is usually just the clothes on your back. No cell phones, no wallet, no money, no identification. By law, they have to hold your belongings for 30 days, giving you time to claim them. However, bureaucracy being what it is, the process of deportation is long and slow, usually way past the 30 days from your processing. This means that by the time you file the necessary paperwork to reclaim your items, they have long ago been discarded. Is that fair? Not at all. Recently, new arrangements have been instituted in some regional jurisdictions to ensure that all steps are taken to ensure property is returned to the rightful owner when they are released, but there is no official procedure set to remedy the fact that most deportees lose quite a bit: not only shirts and shoes, but wedding rings, children’s pictures, etc.
10. If You Have Children, They Could Be Considered Abandoned
If you are fearful of possible deportation, immigration attorneys recommend that you should make arrangements beforehand for the care of your children. That is because if parents are deported, any child left behind, under law, may be considered abandoned and turned over to the custody of social services. If the children are U.S. citizens, the undocumented parents may have their legal parental rights terminated. If both parents are undocumented and they have an American-born child, all will return to the parents’ native country. However, while the parents are in custody awaiting removal, someone will have to see to the child’s needs. This person should be designated as a “person in parental relation” beforehand and will assist in ensuring the child is transported back to meet the parents in their native country. Or, if two established nonresident aliens have children in school who would like to remain, they would need to sign a power of attorney and appoint someone to be responsible for their assets and children. Every case is different and it is highly recommended that you seek an immigration attorney for assistance.
9. Many Who Are Deported Go Back To A Place They Hardly Know
In Mexico City’s airport, the deported arrive by the planeload! Mexico might have been the country where they were born, but many no longer feel any connection to their place of origin. This might be due to them having travelled to the United States as a child or having lived in their new home for many years. No matter the reason, their legal home is foreign to them. Even though every deportee is greeted by government works and local aid groups, they are almost always overwhelmed, feeling lost. Unless they still have friends or family in the area, they might not even have a place to stay or any hopes of getting money to travel. In other parts along the United States-Mexico border, deportees arrive by the busload. Some gravitate towards the local housing shelter. Some will try to cross the border again, while others will try to travel south in hopes of connecting with relatives.
8. The Recently Deported Are Easy Prey For Kidnappers
From the United States, many deportations to Mexico take place at night, when border cities have a high rate of kidnappings. Kidnappers know those who are recently deported seldom have any local connections and are alone. However, they believe, whether true or not, that they do have connections to Americans who might be willing to pay a ransom for their release. That makes them easy prey and prime targets! The problem is aggravated by the deportations taking place at night, when most shelters and social services are closed, leaving deportees helpless and alone. At one point, it was reported that in the border city of Nuevo Laredo alone, there were 4 to 5 kidnappings a day, including U.S. citizens. Mexican authorities are constantly rescuing victims from homes, where they are being held by kidnappers. In 2014, Amnesty International reported that three recently-deported women were kidnapped while waiting in line at a Western Union in Matamoros. The women are still listed as missing.
7. You Can Still Be Deported To Nations That Officially Don’t Accept Deportees
Some nations officially claim not to accept forced deportations, such as Iraq. However, there are always unofficial ways undocumented immigrants can still be sent back. Even if the government will not accept a planeload of deportees, a few sent back on private flights with those who are voluntarily returning are allowed through. These are not commercial flights, but private planes with law enforcement escorts. When these plans bring back asylum seekers who are returning voluntarily, police or customs agents regularly allow a few forced deportees on that same plane. When they arrive, let’s say in Baghdad, the deportees will be escorted by police through the airport and meet with the Iraqi police, who accept the deportees into their custody for later disposition or release. A similar arrangement is accepted in many countries. It’s not official, but it happens.
6. Recently Repatriated Are Always Key Targets For Victimization
Evidence suggests that post-deportation risks, such as monetary extortions, imprisonment, and torture occur regularly in a number of countries, including Albania, Algeria, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Haiti, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Pakistan. The culprits are not always criminal organizations, but can even be state-sponsored. Sometimes, if they are arrested when they are returned to their home country, the charge is “having attempted to emigrate through irregular means.” According to international law and the principle of non-refoulement, countries are prohibited from deporting individuals to unsafe situations. It is deemed against their human rights to send them back to countries where it likely they will be subjected to inhumane treatment. However, these forced deportations do occur. Sometimes, to avoid any such mistreatment, family members make informal monetary arrangements for safe passage with police at the arriving airports. Those who fail to do so are at the mercy of the authorities and, even if they aren’t arrested, can be harassed and have their belongings confiscated.
5. Unfortunately Some Immigrants Returned To A Violent Country Do Not Survive
Officially, there are no statistics that document just how many deported immigrants are subsequently murdered or are the victims of violence, but most sources indicate it is not uncommon. Immigrants fleeing the violence of their native countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador, or Honduras, often return to find locals not very welcoming. Some nations in Central America, known as the Northern Triangle, have such extremely high levels of violence that it drives tens of thousands of immigrants to seek asylum in Mexico and the United States. One 2014 news report indicated that 83 Central Americans were killed after being deported from the United States. Women and young girls are far more frequently victims of s*xual violence in the region. Are they targeted because they tried to leave? Or, is it just those attackers become of aware of their presence due to their notoriety of having made it out only to be returned? It is unknown, but Amnesty International believes there is some causality involved.
4. Those Who Sneak Back Into The U.S. After Being Deported Face Harsher Treatment
If immigration authorities discover that an undocumented immigrant has re-entered the United States illegally after having already been deported, it is bad news. Since a prior removal order was already issued, the court can immediately reinstate the previous order from its original date. This means the case is not subject to review and you won’t be entitled to any judicial proceedings or hearings. However, you can still apply for some limited legal remedies or asylum. Most options will not be available as the government will assert that they have previously satisfied the requirement for your removal. Some of the rights still afforded to you include asking for a thirty day review, or requesting a “reasonable fear” interview if the immigrant believes returning to the nation of origin will bring bodily harm or persecution. However, even after all that, they may still reinstate your previous order and deport you.
3. Having A “Deported” Stamp On Your Passport Makes For Lots Of Questions When Traveling To Other Countries
Once an undocumented immigrant is deported, they get a big ol’ stamp on their passport. This stamp can cause problems even when travelling legally to other countries. This label opens you up to a lot of questioning by the customs or immigration authorities in any given location. You may be detained upon entry and questioned about why you were deported, if it involved drug charges (which is a big no-no in many countries and they may refuse you entry if they believe you are involved in such activities). Of course, no matter what you tell them, they will always take your words with a grain of salt. This could involve you being detained at border checkpoints until your status can be verified. Can you blame them? Most countries don’t deport unless they have reason to do so. Those with the “Deported” stamp usually can’t wait for their current passport to expire, so they can get a fresh one free from the tainted marking!
2. There Is An Extreme Hardship Exception For Those Facing Deportation
On a case-by-case basis, immigration authorities may elect to forego deportation, or removal proceedings, against someone involved in extraordinarily severe situations. These are called “Extreme Hardship Exceptions.” The effects of being deported, as harsh as they are, are not considered to be extreme hardships; however, this would apply to those with certain medical or financial hardships. Additionally, under the 1994 U.S. Violence Against Women Act, someone who is the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of a spouse or parent, who is a citizen or permanent resident, can petition to have their immigration status reviewed. Even if they might not otherwise be eligible, they may apply for permanent residency. Though the law is labeled as being geared toward women, the language is actually gender-neutral, and applies to a wife, husband, or child. The abuser would not even be entitled to know or be involved in the immigration proceedings.
1. If Deported, You Can Come Back… Legally
Even if you are deported, in the United States, immigration law does allow the possibility that you can return… legally. Once deported, it is tough to get another visa. The process for being allowed back in after removal varies depending on the reason you were deported in the first place. Normally, if you were deported, it was for one of a handful of reasons: being charged with a criminal offence, failing to register with the immigration authorities, entering the country illegally or violating the terms of entry, or for being a threat to national security. For each of these grounds of removal, there are different waivers to allow a return (except for being a threat to national security, sorry). Let’s say an undocumented immigrant was removed for an aggravated felony charge. The court may state that he cannot come back for a period of 20 years. A lesser charge may warrant a period of five to ten years before applying for a waiver. The waiting period varies on the type and number of violations. It is a difficult process, but not impossible. It is best to consult an immigration attorney for each specific case.
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