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Is Deportation a Felony? Understanding the Legal Aspects

If you or a loved one is facing the daunting prospect of deportation, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. Deportation can be a life-altering event that impacts individuals and families profoundly. One common question that arises is whether deportation is considered a felony. To clarify, deportation itself is not a felony, but rather a civil matter. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of this topic and shed light on the legal nuances surrounding deportation.

Understanding the Legal Distinction: Deportation is a Civil Matter

First and foremost, it’s important to establish that deportation is not classified as a felony, nor is it considered a misdemeanor. According to the Legal Information Institute, “deportation is a civil, not a criminal proceeding” in the United States. This distinction is crucial because it means that deportation cases are handled in immigration courts, which are separate and distinct from criminal courts. The primary focus of immigration courts is to determine an individual’s right to remain in the United States, rather than to adjudicate criminal guilt or innocence.

Initiating Deportation Proceedings

Deportation proceedings do not necessarily commence with an arrest. However, they can be initiated in various ways, such as when an individual is charged with a separate criminal offense or when they are detained by immigration authorities. The official beginning of the deportation process occurs when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA outlines the grounds for deportation and is submitted to the immigration court.

During the immigration court hearing, the individual facing deportation has the opportunity to present evidence and arguments in their defense. They can assert reasons why they should be allowed to remain in the country, which may include claims for asylum or other forms of relief. The presiding judge then evaluates the evidence, applicable laws, and regulations to make a determination regarding deportation. It’s important to note that being ordered to leave the United States is not equivalent to a criminal conviction.

Responding to a Notice to Appear

If you receive a Notice to Appear, it is crucial to take immediate and proactive steps to protect your rights. Consultation with an experienced deportation defense attorney is highly recommended. Providing your attorney with all relevant documents and records is essential. Attempting to evade or ignore the formal process can result in an automatic deportation order issued in your absence. Essentially, failing to appear can lead to a default civil judgment for deportation without the opportunity to present your case.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Deportation Defense Attorney

At Vanderwall Immigration, our deportation defense attorney in Portland, Oregon, possesses the legal expertise and skills needed to assist you during this challenging time. We encourage you to reach out to us by phone or through our online contact form to schedule a completely confidential initial consultation. With offices in Beaverton and Salem, we offer deportation defense services in Portland and throughout the broader Oregon region.