Prisoners and gendarmes on the road to Siberia, 1845
Certificate of identity of a deported individual, among the Chinese deportation records of the US District court, Los Angeles County, California

Deportation is the expulsion of a person or group of people from a territory. The actual definition changes depending on the place and context, and it also changes over time.[1][2][3][4] Forced displacement or forced migration of an individual or a group may be caused by deportation, for example ethnic cleansing, and other reasons [which?]. A person who has been deported or is under sentence of deportation is called a deportee.[5]


Definitions of deportation vary, with some implicating "transfer beyond State borders" (distinguishing it from forcible transfer),[2] others considering it "the actual implementation of [an expulsion] order in cases where the person concerned does not follow it voluntarily",[3] and others differentiating removal of legal immigrants (expulsion) and illegal immigrants (deportation).[6]

This article approaches deportation in the most general sense, in accordance with International Organization for Migration,[7] which defines expulsion and deportation synonyms in the context of migration, adding:

"The terminology used at the domestic or international level on expulsion and deportation is not uniform but there is a clear tendency to use the term expulsion to refer to the legal order to leave the territory of a State, and removal or deportation to refer to the actual implementation of such order in cases where the person concerned does not follow it voluntarily."[8]

According to the European Court of Human Rights, collective expulsion is any measure compelling non-nationals, as a group, to leave a country, except where such a measure is taken on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular case of each individual non-national of the group. Mass expulsion may also occur when members of an ethnic group are sent out of a state regardless of nationality. Collective expulsion, or expulsion en masse, is prohibited by several instruments of international law.[9]



Expulsions widely occurred in ancient history, and is well-recorded particularly in ancient Mesopotamia.[10] The kingdoms of Israel and Judah faced several forced expulsions, including deportations by the Neo-Assyrian Empire following the fall of Israel and during Sennacherib's campaign in the 8th century BCE. Later, the Neo-Babylonian Empire deported much of the Judean population upon conquering Judah in 597 BCE and 587 BCE.[11]

Deportation in the Achaemenid Empire

Deportation was practiced as a policy toward rebellious people in Achaemenid Empire. The precise legal status of the deportees is unclear; but ill-treatment is not recorded. Instances include:[10]

Deportations in the Achaemenid Empire
Deported people Deported to Deporter
6,000 Egyptians (including the king Amyrtaeus and many artisans) Susa Cambyses II
Barcaeans A village in Bactria Darius I
Paeonians of Thrace Sardes, Asia Minor (later returned) Darius I
Milesians Ampé, on the mouth of Tigris near the Persian Gulf Darius I
Carians and Sitacemians Babylonia
Eretrians Ardericca in Susiana Darius I
Beotians Tigris region
Sidonian prisoners of war Susa and Babylon Artaxerxes III
Jews who supported the Sidonian revolt[12] Hyrcania Artaxerxes III

Deportation in the Parthian Empire

Unlike in the Achaemenid and Sassanian periods, records of deportation are rare during the Arsacid Parthian period. One notable example was the deportation of the Mards in Charax, near Rhages (Ray) by Phraates I. The 10,000 Roman prisoners of war after the Battle of Carrhae appear to have been deported to Alexandria Margiana (Merv) near the eastern border in 53 BC, who are said to married to local people. It is hypothesized that some of them founded the Chinese city of Li-Jien after becoming soldiers for the Hsiung-nu, but this is doubted.[10]

Hyrcanus II, the Jewish king of Judea (Jerusalem), was settled among the Jews of Babylon in Parthia after being taken as captive by the Parthian-Jewish forces in 40 BC.[13]

Roman POWs in the Antony's Parthian War may have suffered deportation.[10]

Deportation in the Sasanian empire

Deportation was widely used by the Sasanians, especially during the wars with the Romans.

During Shapur I's reign, the Romans (including Valerian) who were defeated at the Battle of Edessa were deported to Persis. Other destinations were Parthia, Khuzestan, and Asorestan. There were cities which were founded and were populated by Romans prisoners of war, including Shadh-Shapur (Dayr Mikhraq) in Meshan, Bishapur in Persis, Wuzurg-Shapur (Ukbara; Marw-Ḥābūr), and Gundeshapur. Agricultural land were also given to the deportees. These deportations initiated the spread Christianity in the Sassanian empire. In Rēw-Ardashīr (Rishahr; Yarānshahr), Persis, there was a church for the Romans and another one for Carmanians.[10] Their hypothesized decisive role in the spread of Christianity in Persia and their major contribution to Persian economy has been recently criticized by Mosig-Walburg (2010).[14] In the mid-3rd century, Greek-speaking deportees from north-western Syria were settled in Kashkar, Mesopotamia.

After the Arab incursion into Persia during Shapur II's reign, he scattered the defeated Arab tribes by deporting them to other regions. Some were deported to Bahrain and Kirman, possibly to both populate these unattractive regions (due to their climate) and bringing the tribes under control.[10]

In 395 AD 18,000 Roman populations of Sophene, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Cappadocia were captured and deported by the "Huns". the prisoners were freed by the Persians as they reached Persia, and were settled in Slōk (Wēh Ardashīr) and Kōkbā (Kōkhē). The author of the text Liber Calipharum has praised the king Yazdegerd I (399–420) for his treatment of the deportees, who also allowed some to return.[10]

Major deportations occurred during the Anastasian War, including Kavad I's deportation of the populations of Theodosiopolis and Amida to Arrajan (Weh-az-Amid Kavad).[10]

Major deportations occurred during the campaigns of Khosrau I from the Roman cities of Sura, Beroea, Antioch, Apamea, Callinicum, and Batnai in Osrhoene, to Wēh-Antiyōk-Khosrow (also known as Rūmagān; in Arabic: al-Rūmiyya). The city was founded near Ctesiphon especially for them, and Khosrow reportedly "did everything in his power to make the residents want to stay".[10] The number of the deportees is recorded to be 292,000 in another source.[15]

Middle ages

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2024)

See also: Medieval antisemitism and Expulsion of the Moriscos

The Medieval European age was marked with several large religious deportations, including that of Christians, Jews and Muslims. For instance, the Almoravid deported Christians from Spain to Morocco, with mass deportations taking place in 1109, 1126, 1130 and 1138.[16]

Modern deportation

With the beginning of the Age of Discovery, deporting individuals to an overseas colony also became common practice. As early as the 16th century, degredados formed a substantial portion of early colonists in Portuguese empire.[17] From 1717 onward Britain deported around 40,000[18]: 5  British religious objectors and "criminals" to America before the practice ceased in 1776.[19] Jailers sold the "criminals" to shipping contractors, who then sold them to plantation owners. The "criminals" worked for the plantation owner for the duration of their sentence.[18]: 5  After Britain lost control of the area which became the United States, Australia became the destination for "criminals" deported to British colonies. Britain transported more than 160,000[18]: 1  British "criminals" to the Australian colonies between 1787 and 1855.[20]

Meanwhile, in Japan during Sakoku, all portuguese and spanish were expelled from the country.

In the 18th century the Tipu Sultan, of Mysore, deported tens of thousands of civilians, from lands he had annexed, to serve as slave labour in other parts of his empire, for example the: Captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam.[21]

In the late 19th century the United States of America began designating "desired" and "undesired" immigrants, leading to the birth of illegal immigration and subsequent deportation of immigrants when found in irregular situations.[22] Starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act, the US government has since deported more than 55 million immigrants, the majority of whom came from Latin-American countries.[23]

At the beginning of the 20th century the control of immigration began becoming common practice, with the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 in Australia,[24] the Aliens Act 1905 in the United Kingdom[25] and the Continuous journey regulation of 1908 in Canada,[26] elevating the deportation of "illegal" immigrants to a global scale.

In the meantime, deportation of "regular residents" also increased.

Deportation in the US

Main article: Deportation and removal from the United States

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, more stringent enforcement of immigration laws were ordered by the executive branch of the U.S. government, which led to increased deportation and repatriation to Mexico. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, between 355,000 and 2 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans were deported or repatriated to Mexico, an estimated 40 to 60% of whom were U.S. citizens – overwhelmingly children. At least 82,000 Mexicans were formally deported between 1929 and 1935 by the government. Voluntary repatriations were more common than deportations.[27][28] In 1954, the executive branch of the U.S. government implemented Operation Wetback, a program created in response to public hysteria about immigration and immigrants from Mexico.[29] Operation Wetback led to the deportation of nearly 1.3 million Mexicans from the United States.[30][31]

Deportation in Nazi Germany

Main article: the Holocaust

People being deported during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Nazi policies deported homosexuals, Jews,[32][33] Poles, and Romani from their established places of residence to Nazi concentration camps or extermination camps set up at a considerable distance from their original residences. During the Holocaust, the Nazis made heavy use of euphemisms, where "deportation" frequently meant the victims were subsequently killed, as opposed to simply being relocated.[34]

Deportation in the Soviet Union

Main article: Population transfer in the Soviet Union

Under orders of Joseph Stalin the Soviet Union carried out a forced transfer of various groups before, during and after World War II (from 1930s up to the 1950s). During the June deportation of 1941, after the occupation of the Baltic countries, Eastern Poland and Moldavia, as was agreed by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, in an attempt to subdue the countries for their forced incorporation into the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union deported tens-of-thousands of innocent people to Siberia.[35]

Deportation in the Independent State of Croatia

Main articles: The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia and World War II persecution of Serbs

An estimated 120,000 Serbs were deported from the Independent State of Croatia to German-occupied Serbia, and 300,000 fled by 1943.[36]

Present scenario

All countries reserve the right to deport persons without right of abode even those who are longtime residents or possess permanent residency. In general, foreigners who have committed serious crimes, entered the country illegally, overstayed or broken the conditions of their visa, or otherwise lost their legal status to remain in the country may be administratively removed or deported.[37]

Since the 1980s, the world also saw the development of practices of externalization/"offshoring immigrants", currently being used by Australia, Canada, the United States, the European Union.[38] and the United Kingdom.[39] Some of the countries in the Persian Gulf have even used this to deport their own citizens. They have paid the Comoros to give them passports and accept them.[40][41]

Noteworthy deportees

See also: List of denaturalized former citizens of the United States

Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, C.L.R. James, Claudia Jones, Fritz Julius Kuhn, Lucky Luciano, and Anna Sage were all deported from the United States by being arrested and brought to the federal immigration control station on Ellis Island in New York Harbor and, from there, forcibly removed from the United States on ships.


Anarchists protesting against deportations

Many criticize deportations, calling them inhuman, as the questioning the effectiveness of deportations. Some are completely opposed towards any deportations, while others state it is inhuman to take somebody to a foreign land without their consent.[42][43][44]

In popular culture

In literature, deportation appears as an overriding theme in the 1935 novel, Strange Passage by Theodore D. Irwin. Films depicting or dealing with fictional cases of deportation are many and varied. Among them are Ellis Island (1936), Exile Express (1939), Five Came Back (1939), Deported (1950), and Gambling House (1951). More recently, Shottas (2002) treated the issue of U.S. deportation to the Caribbean post-1997.

See also



  1. ^ "EMN Asylum and Migration Glossary – Removal". European Commission.
  2. ^ a b "Case Matrix Network – Art. 7(1)(d) 5". Case Matrix Network.
  3. ^ a b "Aliens, Expulsion and Deportation". Oxford Public International Law.
  4. ^ Jean-Marie Henckaerts in his book Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice wrote:

    As far as deportation is concerned, there is no general feature that clearly sets it apart from expulsion. Both term basically indicate the same phenomenon. ... The only difference seems to be one of preferential use, expulsion being more an international term while deportation is more used in municipal law. ... One study [discusses this distinction] but immediately adds that in modern practice both terms have become interchangeable.

    See Jean-Marie Henckaerts (6 July 1995). Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 5–6. ISBN 90-411-0072-5.
  5. ^ "Definition of DEPORTEE". Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  7. ^ "International Migration Law No. 34 – Glossary on Migration". IOM. 19 June 2019.
  8. ^ W. Kälin, ‘Aliens, Expulsion and Deportation’ in R. Wolfrum (ed) Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (2014).
  9. ^ IOM 2011, p. 35.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i A. Shapur Shahbazi, Erich Kettenhofen, John R. Perry, "DEPORTATIONS," Encyclopædia Iranica, VII/3, pp. 297–312, available online at "DEPORTATIONS – Encyclopaedia Iranica". (accessed on 30 December 2012).
  11. ^ Lemche, Niels Peter (2004). Historical dictionary of ancient Israel. Historical dictionaries of ancient civilizations and historical eras. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8108-4848-1.
  12. ^ Bruce, Frederick Fyvie (1990). The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 0-8028-0966-9.
  13. ^ Kooten, George H. van; Barthel, Peter (2015). The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy. 540: BRILL. ISBN 9789004308473.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  14. ^ Mosig-Walburg, Karin (2010). "Deportationen römischer Christen in das Sasanidenreich durch Shapur I. und ihre Folgen: eine Neubewertung". Klio. 92 (1): 117–156. doi:10.1524/klio.2010.0008. ISSN 0075-6334. S2CID 191495778.
  15. ^ Christensen, The Decline of Iranshahr: Irrigation and Environments in the History of the Middle East, 500 B.C. to A.D. 1500, 1993. [page needed]
  16. ^ Lower, Michael (2014). "The Papacy and Christian Mercenaries of Thirteenth-Century North Africa". Speculum. 89 (3 JULY). The University of Chicago Press: 601–631. doi:10.1017/S0038713414000761. S2CID 154773840.
  17. ^ Russell-Wood (1998:p.106-107)
  18. ^ a b c Hill, David (2010). 1788 the brutal truth of the first fleet. Random House Australia. ISBN 978-1741668001.
  19. ^ Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life, 2002
  20. ^ McCaffray and Melancon, p. 171.
  21. ^ Farias, Kranti K. (1999). The Christian Impact in South Kanara. Church History Association of India. p. 68. ISBN 978-81-7525-126-7.
  22. ^ "The Birth of 'Illegal' Immigration". 2017-09-17.
  23. ^ Hester, Torrie (2020-06-30). "The History of Immigrant Deportations". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.647. ISBN 978-0-19-932917-5.
  24. ^ "Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Cth)". Documenting a Democracy. Museum of Australian Democracy. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  25. ^ David Rosenberg, 'Immigration' on the Channel 4 website
  26. ^ Johnston, Hugh (1995). "Exclusion". The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh's challenge to Canada's colour bar. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 138. Retrieved 13 March 2022. The Canadian government tried to stop the Indian influx with a continuous passage order-in-council issued 8 Jan. 1908, but it was loosely drafted and successfully challenged in court
  27. ^ Gratton, Brian; Merchant, Emily (December 2013). "Immigration, Repatriation, and Deportation: The Mexican-Origin Population in the United States, 1920–1950" (PDF). Vol. 47, no. 4. The International migration review. pp. 944–975.
  28. ^ McKay, "The Federal Deportation Campaign in Texas: Mexican Deportation from the Lower Rio Grande Valley During the Great Depression", Borderlands Journal, Fall 1981; Balderrama and Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, 1995; Valenciana, "Unconstitutional Deportation of Mexican Americans During the 1930s: A Family History and Oral History", Multicultural Education, Spring 2006.
  29. ^ See Albert G. Mata, "Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954 by Juan Ramon García", Contemporary Sociology, 1:5 (September 1983), p. 574 ("the widespread concern and hysteria about 'wetback inundation'..."); Bill Ong Hing, Defining America Through Immigration Policy, Temple University Press, 2004, p. 130. ISBN 1-59213-233-2 ("While Operation Wetback temporarily relieved national hysteria, criticism of the Bracero program mounted."); David G. Gutiérrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity, University of California Press, 1995, p. 168. ISBN 0-520-20219-8 ("The situation was further complicated by the government's active collusion in perpetuating the political powerlessness of ethnic Mexicans by condoning the use of Mexican labor while simultaneously whipping up anti-Mexican hysteria against wetbacks."); Ian F. Haney López, Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice, new ed., Belknap Press, 2004, p. 83. ISBN 0-674-01629-7 ("... Operation Wetback revived Depression-era mass deportations. Responding to public hysteria about the 'invasion' of the United States by 'illegal aliens', this campaign targeted large Mexican communities such as East Los Angeles."); Jaime R. Aguila, "Book Reviews: Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s. By Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez", Journal of San Diego History, 52:3–4 (Summer-Fall 2006), p. 197. ("Anti-immigrant hysteria contributed to the implementation of Operation Wetback in the mid 1950s....")
  30. ^ García, Juan Ramon. Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1980. ISBN 0-313-21353-4
  31. ^ Hing, Bill Ong. Defining America Through Immigration Policy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-59213-232-4
  32. ^ Deportation to the Death Camps, Yad Vashem
  33. ^ Database of deportations during the Holocaust – The International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem
  34. ^ "Holocaust Glossary". Scholastic.
  35. ^ "The Soviet Massive Deportations – A Chronology". SciencesPo. 5 November 2007.
  36. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918–2005. New York: Indiana University Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-253-34656-8.
  37. ^ Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, 1995, p. 5; Forsythe and Lawson, Encyclopedia of Human Rights, 1996, pp. 53–54.
  38. ^ FitzGerald, David Scott (2019). Refuge beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-087417-9.
  39. ^ Raphael, Therese (20 April 2022). "Boris Johnson Won't Find Refuge in Rwanda". Bloomberg UK. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  40. ^ Mahdavi, Pardis (2016-06-30). "Stateless and for Sale in the Gulf". Foreign Affairs. ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 2024-01-03.
  41. ^ "To silence dissidents, Gulf states are revoking their citizenship". The Economist. 26 November 2016.
  42. ^ "Mass deportation isn't just inhumane. It's ineffective. – The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  43. ^ "Analysis: Deaths during forced deportation".
  44. ^ "4. From Exception to Excess: Detention and Deportations across the Mediterranean Space". The Deportation Regime. University of Leicester. 2020. pp. 147–165. doi:10.1515/9780822391340-007. hdl:2381/9344. ISBN 978-0-8223-9134-0. S2CID 159652908.


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Further reading