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What is a Deportation Order?

By Dale Marshall
Updated May 17, 2024
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In its broadest modern sense, a deportation order is issued by an official, often a judge, regarding a non-citizen, directing that that person be expelled from the country. A deportation order is generally issued against an immigrant who’s been convicted of a crime, including entering the country illegally or overstaying a visa. Deportation orders have also been used to further political agendas by expelling politically undesirable aliens, either singly or in groups.

A deportation order frequently follows upon the conviction of an alien, legal or not, of a crime, on the grounds that he’s no longer fit to live in the country. It may be issued by the judge in the case or it may be issued by immigration officials monitoring the case. In either case, it provides for the expulsion of the convicted alien from the country, by force if necessary, usually with no possibility of return in the future.

Legal action is not always necessary for the issuance of a deportation order. Government officials commonly order deportations under certain circumstances, such as when people have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas. Mass deportations are also fairly common, and are generally ordered by the executive authority in a country, not the judiciary.

Deportation holds an unsavory place in world history because of the ways it’s been abused. The deportation of individual aliens because they’ve been convicted of serious crimes is a reasonable exercise of sovereign power. Less reasonable, though, are the countless instances of deportations of individuals or groups for political, cultural or economic reasons. Such deportations often haven’t been limited to non-citizens. When England had colonies, for instance, it had a habit of establishing penal colonies, such as Australia and the American state of Georgia, and sending convicted criminals to those colonies. England also frequently expelled religious undesirables to the American colonies until around 1730, and the Soviet Union deported entire populations for trumped-up reasons.

In many cases, illegal immigrants aren’t afforded the same rights available to citizens or legal residents of the country, making it difficult to dispute a deportation order. In the United States, a deportation order is a serious event, but can be fought legally under certain circumstances, especially if the immigrant is in the country legally and hasn’t committed any serious crimes. Immigrants who find themselves in such a position should immediately consult legal counsel. In addition, there are groups and associations that provide assistance to those in danger of deportation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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