Deportation 101: The Basics You Need to Know

Person with child sitting on their shoulders

Getting a letter from the Department of Homeland Security with the news that you are being deported is a scary and stressful situation. Many immigrants don’t realize that no matter what their immigration status (documented or undocumented), they can still be at risk for removal. However, learning the basics about how the deportation process works when it comes to immigration can help you remain protected. Here’s what every immigrant needs to know:

Adjustment of Status

Foreign nationals who are currently living in the United States may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency through adjustment of status and avoid deportation.

Family-Based Green Cards Through Adjustment of Status

A family-based green card through adjustment of status may help you remain in the U.S. if:

  • You have lawfully entered the U.S.
  • You are regarded as admissible and have not been barred from entering the U.S.
  • You have a relative that is a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.
  • You have a visa petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • You have a visa number or a priority date that is immediately available.
  • You are not in violation of any immigration laws.

How Can Undocumented Immigrants Avoid Deportation

Entering the United States without authorization is illegal. While the immigration process can be daunting for undocumented immigrants, all hope is not lost. With the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney, undocumented immigrants may be able to remain in the country under the following immigration provisions:


Marriage to a U.S. Citizen can help you stay in the country as long as it is a bona fide (real, not a sham) marriage with a United States citizen. While an illegal immigration status makes the process more complicated, consulting an immigration attorney on your marriage to a U.S. citizen can make all the difference.

Cancellation of Removal

If you’ve been arrested in the U.S., you may be able to use cancellation of removal as a deportation defense, but you must prove the following:

  • You’ve been physically present in the U.S. for at least ten years.
  • You’ve been a person of good moral character during your ten years in the U.S.
  • Your deportation will cause exceptional and extreme hardship to your spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • You have not committed any immigration violations, crimes, or have persecuted others.


If you have been persecuted in your home country or fear persecution, you may be eligible to stay in the U.S. through asylum. Proving that you’ve been persecuted can be a challenging task. Enlist the help of an immigration attorney to assist you with the best course of action.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

If your home country has had a civil war, environmental or natural disaster, or any other safety reasons, you may be eligible for “TPS.” TPS can allow you to stay in the United States for a maximum of 18 months. You can find a list of eligible countries on the USCIS website.

Top Reasons for Deportation

Immigrants can avoid deportation by not committing the following immigration violations:

  • Conviction of crimes of moral turpitude (i.e., fraud, larceny, intent to cause harm to a person).
  • Prostitution
  • Being convicted of more than two offenses with a combined sentence of more than five years
  • Marriage fraud
  • False representation of a U.S. Citizen
  • Illegal entry into the United States
  • Conviction of possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Pretending to be a U.S. citizen to receive benefits
  • Unlawful entry into the U.S.

How You Can Protect Your Family From ICE

Whether you or a loved one is facing detainment from ICE, it’s imperative to know your rights so you and your family can stay protected.

What Are Your Rights?

You are protected under the U.S. Constitution. If you are being questioned by ICE, you can exercise the following rights:

The right to remain silent - giving personal information to law enforcement agents can be used against you in immigration court. Tell the ICE agent that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and do not give any information about your immigration status.

The right to refuse a search - If a law enforcement agent asks to search you, let the agent know that you are exercising your right to refuse a search. Law enforcement agents are not legally permitted to search anyone without consent or probable cause for doing so.

How to Handle an ICE Detainment

If a family member or friend has been detained by ICE, knowing where they are is critical. In this situation, time is of the essence. Contacting an immigration attorney immediately for help can make all the difference in getting your loved one out of ICE custody sooner than later.

When to Contact a Miami Immigration Attorney

When faced with deportation, there is no time to waste. It can be a scary and stressful situation, especially if you don’t understand complicated immigration laws. If you or a loved one has been flagged for removal, contact Revilla Law Firm, P.A. today at (305) 858-2323 to learn more about how we can assist you with your deportation case.

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