Good Question: You've been deported. Now what?

March 07, 2018 07:00 AM

A viewer asked Pat Taney how an illegal immigrant is removed from the U.S. and how much it costs for this week's Good Question report.

News 10NBC has done a lot of recent stories on immigration. But what happens to a person once they're told to leave the country?

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First, every undocumented immigrant gets a chance in court to fight to stay here. If they are denied, they can still appeal so the process can take several months to years.

When all options are exhausted and they don't leave on their own, here's what will happen.

"There are a number of ways to get removed from the U.S." Said Tom Feeley, field office director for ICE and Removal Operations.

Once an order of removal is issued, Feeley's staff will work with the person who will be removed to get the proper paperwork.

"We have the illegal alien help us get them a travel document or passport to their home country," Feeley said. "After that, my officers will work with foreign embassies in getting that process going."

The person then is usually driven, if the border is close, or flown.

"For example, I could take you on a Delta or United Airlines flight with another officer and escort you back to that country and turn you over to local officials," Feeley said.

ICE also has its own aircraft.

"We use that if, lets say, we have multiple people that have to go back to the continent of Africa or Asia," Feely said. "We will put them all onboard the same aircraft to be most cost effective."

But it's not cheap. The average cost for one deportation is around $10,000. 

Most people are taken to the capital city in their home country and turned over to authorities who are waiting for them there.

Feeley says throughout the entire process, each person is treated with respect and dignity.

Even so, in some cases, especially for those who have lived here for years, it is incredibly difficult.

"It's exile," said Wedade Abdallah, who is the immigration program director at the Legal Aid Society of Rochester. "It's exile from your family, exile from the only home you probably ever remember. They have to relearn how to live, they may not have family there."

Some foreign countries have programs to help people recently removed readjust. Abdallah and her team also help as much as they can before removal.

"We can help them prepare parental designations, if they are leaving children behind, we can also set up powers of attorney to help with their property issues," Abdallah said.

Point blank, the removal process is not easy, neither for the person nor the government. 

"I get called a racist a lot which race has nothing to do with this," Feeley said. "This has to do with your legality in a foreign country."

Once a person is removed, they cannot legally return to the U.S. for 10 years.

If a person who was deported committed an aggravated felony, they will likely never be allowed back in.

Last year, there were more than 1,700 people deported in upstate New York.

If you have a good question, email Pat at


Pat Taney

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