Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are deported from the U.S. each year. For fiscal year 2013, deportation under the Obama administration totaled 438,421, according to the immigration enforcement statistics recently released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The number is nearly a 5 percent increase from the 418,397 deportations in 2012.
According to the report, the DHS apprehended 662,483 individuals. 178,371 were informally returned to their home country without a removal order.
Aliens who were returned were those who appeared to be inadmissible or deportable and were given the option to voluntarily go back at their expense. Mexicans ranked first in the number of returnees, followed by Canadians and Filipinos.
The report also reveals that out-of-court removals were at an all-time high. 363,000 individuals or 83 percent of all removals were removed without a court hearing. 193,032 individuals or 44 percent were expedited removals and 170,247 or 39 percent were reinstatements of prior removal orders.
Formal removal or deportation is a harsh punishment with serious consequences which include, among others, being barred from entering the U.S. for several years.
According to the American Immigration Council, “these rapid deportation decisions often fail to take into account many critical factors, including whether the individual is eligible to apply for lawful status in the United States, whether he or she has long-standing ties here, or whether he or she has U.S.-citizen family members.”
A noncitizen placed under deportation or removal proceedings may be eligible for relief from removal. Reliefs include voluntary departure, asylum, adjustment of status and cancellation of removal.
A voluntary departure allows the individual to return to his home country at his own expense without the stigma of formal removal.
An asylum is granted to an individual who is unable to return to his home country because of past persecution or well-founded fear of future persecution based upon his race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Adjustment of status as a relief is available to an individual who is the beneficiary of a petition filed by a family member or an employer and a visa number is immediately available.
Cancellation of removal as a discretionary relief may be availed of by a lawful permanent resident or a non-permanent resident.
It may be granted to a permanent resident if he has been residing in the U.S for at least five (5) years as a permanent resident, has continuously resided at least seven (7) years after his lawful admission and has not been convicted of an aggravated felony.
This relief may be granted to a nonpermanent resident if he has been continuously present in the U.S. for at least ten (10) years and has been a person of good moral character and during that time has not been convicted of an offense that would make him removable and must prove that his removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.