Deportation and removal from the United States

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A US Border Patrol watches the US-Mexico barrier.

Deportation and removal from the United States occurs when the U.S. government orders a person to leave the country. In fiscal year 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted 315,943 removals.[1] Criteria for deportations are set out in 8 U.S.C. § 1227.

In the 105 years between 1892 and 1997, the United States deported 2.1 million people.[2] Between 1993 and 2001, during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, about 1,870,000 people were deported.[3] Between 2001 and 2008, during the Presidency of George W. Bush, about 2.0 million people were deported, while between 2009 and 2016, during the Presidency of Barack Obama, about 3.2 million people were deported.[4]

History of deportation in the U.S.[edit]

In the 18th Century[edit]

In the year of 1794, the first immigrants were deported in Massachusetts, following a rush of poor Irish immigrants to the east coast of the U.S.. The passing of the 1794 Massachusetts State Law permitted the deportation of such immigrants.[5] A few years later, the U.S. Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Under this law, new powers were granted to deport immigrants. Specifically, the Alien Enemies Act allowed the U.S. government to a deport any male who was from a nation who was considered an enemy during war. Along with that, the Alien Friend Act granted the president the power to deport any immigrant, who was not a citizen of the U.S. and suspected to be plotting against the U.S. Government.[6]

In the 19th Century[edit]

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 became the first law in American history that demanded the exclusion and deportation of a particular racial group. For Chinese immigrants who were already in the country when this law passed, they were only allowed to re-enter the country, if they left with certifications.[5] Along with that, they were stripped away from the right to obtain citizenship in the U.S., while the possibility of being deported remained.[7] When this act expired, Congress passed the Geary Act which allowed for the Chinese Exclusion Act to last another ten years. The Geary Act also changed the living conditions for Chinese immigrants living in the U.S. as it stated that they had to have a certificate of residence and could be deported if they didn't have it.[7]

In the 20th Century[edit]

In the years of 1919 and 1920, thousands of immigrants were deported as the Palmer Raids began to take place. These raids occurred under the Justice Department, and were led by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer who established the General Intelligence Division within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[8] The following act that regulated immigration in the U.S. was the National Immigration Act of 1924, this act established a quota for granting visas. Under this law, only two percent of immigrants from a certain nationality were given visas while it did not apply to immigrants from the continent of Asia.[9] In the 1930s, during the great depression era, over 1.8 million Mexican immigrants were deported and an estimated 60 percent of them were actually U.S. Citizens. These deportations became famously known as the Mexican Repatriation, which tore thousands of families apart. These deportations took place under a lot of local governments through local raids.[10] The Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1952 and created preferences for immigration to the U.S. based on desired skilled-workers and family reunification. Aside from that, it also made the process of deportation easier, as it permitted people to be fined as well as arrested if they were living with an undocumented immigrant or rented a home to one.[11] The rise of Mexican deportation continued during the era of World War II, through a program established by the collaboration of the U.S. government and the Mexican government, known as the Bracero Program.[5] This program allowed for the short-term legal immigration of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. for the purposes of filling the gap of agricultural workers that resulted from the war. Along with that, a wave of undocumented Mexican immigrants migrated to the U.S. in search of these job opportunities as well.[5] As a result of this, Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. created operation wetback, which was responsible for the deportation of around 300,000 of these Mexican undocumented immigrants.[12] In the year of 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and a new approach to deporting immigrants who were terrorists, as defined by this law, was created.[13] It did so, by expanding the list of committed crimes that could lead to the deportation of an undocumented immigrant. It also granted the U.S. government power to deport permanent residents who were convicted of an aggravated felony.[14] President Clinton also signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996.[5] This law strengthened the U.S. border control by establishing criminal penalties for things like using fake visas and permitted the deportation of undocumented immigrants who committed a misdemeanor.[15]

In the 21st Century[edit]

On June 4, 2019 a large group of undocumented immigrants were apprehended by Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents at the U.S.- Mexican Border.

After President George W. Bush became President, he signed the Homeland Security Act in the year of 2002.[16] This law was responsible for creating the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a new department under the executive branch. Following the establishment of this department, enforcement procedures intensified with the creation of subset organizations such as the Bureau of Border Security along with the creation of the detention and removal program.[17] Under Barack Obama's presidency, over 2.5 million undocumented immigrants were deported.[18] Obama focused on the removal of criminals, and passed an executive order titled, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012, providing temporary amnesty from deportation to undocumented immigrants who migrated to the U.S at a young age.[19] The federal funding for immigration enforcement in the year of 2012 increased to $18 billion, which allowed for the immense increase in illegal immigration enforcement and deportations.[19] Since President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017, the number of deported undocumented immigrants has decreased drastically.[20] While under Trump's presidency, U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement has conducted hundreds of raids in workspaces and sent removal orders to families, they are not deporting as many immigrants as they deported under Obama's presidency. In Obama's first three years in office, around 1.18 million immigrants were deported, while around 800,000 deportations have taken place under Trump in his three years of presidency.[20]

Top 10 countries of origin of deportees in the U.S.[edit]

Fiscal year 2018[21]
Country of origin Number of deported immigrants
1. Mexico 139,330
2. Guatemala 52,755
3. Honduras 32,180
4. El Salvador 16,141
5. Dominican Republic 1,827
6. Brazil 1,787
7. Ecuador 1,304
8.Colombia 1,157
9. Nicaragua 1,113
10. India 831
Fiscal year 2014[22]
Country of origin Number of deported immigrants
1. Mexico 176,968
2. Guatemala 54,423
3. Honduras 40,695
4. El Salvador 27,180
5. Dominican Republic 2,130
6. Ecuador 1,565
7. Nicaragua 1,266
8. Colombia 1,181
9. Jamaica 938
10. Brazil 850
Fiscal year 2010[23]
Country of origin Number of deported immigrants
1. Mexico 282,242
2. Guatemala 29,378
3. Honduras 24,611
4. El Salvador 19,809
5. Dominican Republic 3,309
6. Brazil 3,109
7. Ecuador 2,321
8. Colombia 2,267
9. Nicaragua 1,847
10. Jamaica 1,475

Court cases[edit]

In 1893, Chinese immigrants challenged the U.S's deportation laws in the case known as Fong Yue Ting v. the United States. The court ruled that the U.S., as a sovereign nation, could deport undocumented immigrants and such immigrants did not have the right to a legal hearing because deportation was a method of enforcing policies and not a punishment for a crime.[5] In the 1903 case Yamataya v. Fisher, also known as the Japanese Immigrant Case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the decisions of administrative or executive officers acting under their delegated powers constituted due process of law and were not subject to judicial review. In the fiscal year 2013, 83 percent of deportation orders came from immigration officers.[24] In 1904, free speech activists attempted to defend an immigrant from England named John Turner, who was a self-proclaimed anarchist, in the case Turner v. Williams. These activists failed to do so, as the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant undocumented immigrants the right to freedom of speech and defended the government's ability of deporting immigrants in this court's ruling.[5]

In April 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, expanded the list of committed crimes that could lead to the deportation of immigrants, including those who have green cards.[25] This case is referred to as Barton v. Barr and was filed by Jamaican immigrant Andre Barton who was attempting to cancel the order for his removal.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Obama Deported More People Than Any Other President?". October 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  3. ^ "Ted Cruz gets it very wrong on recent presidents' deportation numbers". The Washington Post. December 16, 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  4. ^ "Obama deported record number of immigrants, despite Trump's claim". New York Daily News. September 1, 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Deportation in the United States | CIVIOS - Your source for public affairs research". Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  6. ^ Editors, History com. "Alien and Sedition Acts". HISTORY. Retrieved 2020-04-25.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b "Our Documents - Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  8. ^ "Palmer Raids | History, Facts, & Significance". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  9. ^ "Milestones: 1921–1936 - Office of the Historian". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  10. ^ Little, Becky. "The U.S. Deported a Million of Its Own Citizens to Mexico During the Great Depression". HISTORY. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  11. ^ "Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952". Immigration to the United States. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  12. ^ "Operation Wetback | United States immigration law-enforcement campaign". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  13. ^ Stephens, Robert W. (2012), "Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (U.S.)", in Loue, Sana; Sajatovic, Martha (eds.), Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health, Springer, pp. 207–208, doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_44, ISBN 978-1-4419-5659-0
  14. ^ Dole, Robert J. (1996-04-24). "S.735 - 104th Congress (1995-1996): Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  15. ^ "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  16. ^ "Homeland Security Act | United States [2002]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  17. ^ "AILA - Section-by-Section Summary of the Homeland Security Act of 2002". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  18. ^ "Obama Has Deported More People Than Any Other President". ABC News. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  19. ^ a b Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti, Sarah Pierce Muzaffar Chishti, Sarah Pierce, and Jessica (2017-01-25). "The Obama Record on Deportations: Deporter in Chief or Not?". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  20. ^ a b Budryk, Zack (2019-11-18). "Deportations lower under Trump administration than Obama: report". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  21. ^ "Infographic: The Nationalities Deported From The U.S. In 2018". Statista Infographics. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  22. ^ "Fiscal Year 2014 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  23. ^ "Home". Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Supreme Court rules green card-holding immigrant subject to deportation". Washington Examiner. 2020-04-23. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  26. ^ "Barton v. Barr". Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved 2020-04-26.