Deportation, Removal & Exclusion

What Is a Removal Proceeding?

After a person is arrested or undergoes an investigation, a removal proceeding is scheduled to determine whether he or she will be deported. The immigrant receives a “Notice to Appear” (NTA) from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security.

The removal proceeding is presided over by an immigration judge, who hears arguments from both the immigrant’s attorney and the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), the government agency seeking deportations. The judge then hands down an order of termination, relief from removal, or a removal.

The laws pertaining to removal proceedings can be confusing and often change. In 1993, it was known as “exclusion and deportation,” but the new deportation law in 1997 renamed deportation “removal” and put exclusion cases in circuit courts.

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Immigration violations, as well as, criminal convictions can result in deportation, ineligibility for relief from removal, and being barred from naturalization, which is the process whereby United States citizenship is conferred on a foreign citizen or national after he or she has fulfilled certain requirements established by Congress. Deportation and exclusion proceedings have been combined into a single proceeding called a "removal" proceeding. There are five broad categories or grounds for deportation. They include:

  • Entering the country without proper authority
  • Status violators who violate the terms of their admission or work without permission
  • Persons with a broad range of criminal convictions
  • Persons who are members of certain prohibited organizations
  • Certain people who become public charges within five years of entering the U.S.
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