The government can use more than 50 reasons to order you out of the country. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can deport anyone who is not a U.S. citizen, even those who are legal permanent residents because they have green cards. Most of the grounds fall into three categories.
Committing a Crime
The most common reason for deportation is a criminal conviction. Felony convictions involving weapons or violence are grounds for deportation. You could also be at risk over a domestic violence conviction. If you're not a citizen, it's unlikely that you'll be released from prison at the end of your sentence. ICE can put a hold on your release. You'll remain in prison until the immigration court decides your case.
Technically, ICE can deport you for bad behavior. Conduct-based grounds include things like drug or alcohol addiction and minor misdemeanors, such as disturbing the peace. These grounds are hard for ICE to prove, however, so you might have a better chance of beating bad behavior charges in immigration court than a criminal conviction. You can present witnesses who will attest to your good character, despite some instances of human error.
Another common reason for deportation includes errors with or violations against your documentation, such as your green card. If you got your green card because you married a U.S. citizen, and if ICE can prove that your marriage is a sham because you live in one city and your spouse lives somewhere else, this can get you deported. If your green card is a fake, you can be deported. If you fail to renew your green card or visa, ICE can order you out of the country.
You Have Options
ICE doesn't have the final say in your deportation. You have a right to defend yourself. For example, you can ask for a "waiver of excludability" if deportation would cause undue hardship, especially to your family members. If you are sole supporter of a family of five in the United States, it would be an undue hardship on them if you were forced to leave the country. This sort of defense is rarely successful if you've been convicted of a felony. Even if you block your deportation, visa-holders may be prohibited from ever applying for a green card.
An Immigration Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding grounds for deportation is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an immigration lawyer.