Until an immigrant successfully completes the process of naturalization, he or she is at risk of being deported, whether on the basis of being declared inadmissible or by meeting one of the grounds for deportation.
Some common grounds of deportation that may apply are:
- Criminal Grounds, such as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs), Multiple Criminal Convictions, and other specific crimes. Each crime, depending on in which state or jurisdiction it has occurred can be interpreted differently from one state to the next. For example, each state within the U.S. may define and charge the crimes of burglary, simple marijuana possession, or a domestic violence incident differently.
- High Speed Flight from an Immigration Checkpoint.
- Security Grounds, such as activities involving terrorism, espionage, sabotage, acts which violate public safety or national security.
- False Claims to U.S. Citizenship or Unlawful Voting in U.S. Elections. If a non-citizen has voted in any federal, state, or local election, they may be deportable (even if they have not been convicted). As well, if a non-citizen falsely represents himself or herself as a U.S. citizen “for any purpose or benefit under any federal or state law” then they may be deportable.
- Non-citizens likely to become a Public Charge by being primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. Certain medicaid and other assistance programs do not implicate someone.
The defenses potentially available to an individual in deportation proceedings are:
If you have a credible fear that the government of your home country will persecute you upon your deportation, the law allows you to remain in the country as an asylee.
If you can prove that you were persecuted in the past by your home country government because of your race, religion, nationality, political or membership in a particular social group (and in some cases, on account of your gender), then the Court must presume that you have a credible fear of prosecution and the burden of proving that you don’t shifts to the USCIS.
In order to be eligible for asylum relief you must have filed an Application for Asylum within one year of the day you first entered the United States.
Withholding of Removal
If you don’t qualify for asylum (usually because you failed to comply with the one year rule), you may still be able to avoid deportation by qualifying for withholding of removal.
Convention Against Torture
The United States is a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and, as such, cannot and will not remove or deport a person to any country that is likely to torture him or her.
Cancellation of Removal
Even if you don’t qualify for one of the above forms of deportation relief, you may avoid deportation (removal) if you have resided in the U.S. for a specified, continuous period, can prove that you are an alien of Good Moral Character and most importantly, can prove that your deportation would result in an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent, or child.
Waivers of Removal
There are several other mechanisms that might allow you to avoid deportation. These are generally called “waivers of removal” and usually require a showing that removal or deportation will cause a significant hardship to either a permanent resident or citizen of the United States.