Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Deportation Definition:

The removal of a foreign national under immigration laws for reasons such as illegal entry or conduct dangerous to the public welfare.

Related Terms: Extradition, Denaturalization

Deportation is the unilateral measure by a government to expel an undesirable foreign national (alien) usually for one of two reasons:

  • He or she has since been discovered to have entered the host or deporting state illegally; or
  • He or she, since their admission into the deporting or host state, has done something to disqualify him or her from staying.

Deportation differs from extradition and that it is a civil procedure and not a criminal procedure. In an extradition hearing, the ultimate destination of the individual is essential to the process. In the deportation hearing, the destination is not the focus of the hearing.

In Fong Yue Ting, the United States Supreme Court used these words:

"Strictly speaking, transportation, extradition, and deportation, although each has the effect of removing a person from the country, are different things, and have different purposes.

"Transportation is by way of punishment of one convicted of an offence against the laws of the country.

"&Extradition is the surrender to another country of one accused of an offence against its laws, there to be tried, and, if found guilty, punished.

"Deportation is the removal of an alien out of the country, simply because his presence is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare and without any punishment being imposed or contemplated either under the laws of the country out of which he is sent or of those of the country to which he is taken."

In Reference re Persons of Japanese Race, Justice Estey of Canada's Supreme Court adopted these words:

"Deportation ... as it is applied in law it is a compulsory sending out of, or ... a forcible removal."

In R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Colonies, Justice Jenkins wrote:

"The word deportation has implicit in it the taking of the person in question from the country from which he is deported to some other place"

The grounds for deportation varies from country to country.


  • Fong Yue Ting v United States 149 US 697 (1893)
  • Reference Re: Persons of Japanese Race 1946 SCR 248
  • R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Colonies, ex parte Greenberg [1947] 2 All ER 550, at 555

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