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The term deportation does not have an exact Russian equivalent (vyselenie is the most common, with deportatsiya also coming into use in the twentieth century). The term refers to the forced removal of a defined group from a certain territory. The largest cases of mass deportation occurred during the two world wars and were linked in many ways to the practices of ethnic cleansing and nationalist politics that swept through Europe during the dark years of the first half of the century.

But the practice can also be traced to precedents in earlier Russian history. Some of the best-known early attempts to use deportation as an official policy involved repressions of elites after conquest of new regions or in the aftermath of rebellions. After the conquest of Novgorod in the late fifteenth century, the Prince of Muscovy expropriated the

Major Ethnic Deportations, 19371944
Nationality Number Deported Date of Deportation Place of Resettlement
SOURCE: Based on Pohl, J. Otto. (1999). Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 19371949. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Koreans 171,781 8/21/3710/25/37 Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
Finns 89,000 8/31/419/7/41 Kazakhstan
Germans 749,613 9/3/4110/15/41 Kazakhstan, Siberia
Kalmyks 93,139 12/28/4312/29/43 Siberia, Kazakhstan
Karachais 69,267 11/6/43 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Chechens 387,229 2/23/442/29/44 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Ingush 91,250 2/23/442/29/44 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Balkars 37,713 3/8/443/9/44 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Crimean Tatars 183,155 5/18/445/20/44 Uzbekistan, Molotov
Crimean Greeks 15,040 6/27/446/28/44 Uzbekistan, Mari ASSR
Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Khemshils 94,955 5/11/4411/26/44 Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Total 1,982,142

lands of leading boyars and forcibly took them to Moscow. When Russia conquered the Crimea, there was a mass exodus of Tatars in which the role of Russian officials remains in dispute among historians. During the conquest of the Caucasus in the nineteenth century, the regime turned to extremely violent methods of driving the entire population from given regions, and encouraged mass emigrations of Adygy, Nogai, and other predominantly Muslim and Turkic groups. In the aftermath of both the 1831 and 1861 rebellions the authorities confiscated estates and deported thousands of Polish gentry it accused of participating to Siberia and the Caucasus.

Another important precedent for the twentieth-century deportations was the Russian punitive system, which relied heavily upon the exile of individuals to Siberia and other locations and thereby created a template for officials to apply to entire groups in extraordinary circumstances. Likewise, the myriad of regulations on Jewish rights of residence resulted in a constant stream of forced expulsions of Jews from areas declared off-limits, including the mass expulsion of Jews from Moscow in 18911892.

Important as these precedents were, the mass deportations of the period from 1914 to 1945 stand in a category apart. The first major deportations of this period occurred during World War I. In the first months of the war, the regime interned enemy citizen males to prevent them from departing the country to serve in enemy armies. By the end of 1915, the regime had expanded these operations to include large numbers of women, children, and elderly, and by 1917, over a quarter million enemy citizens had been deported to the Russian interior. In a series of other operations, the army extended the mass deportations to Russian subjects. The largest of these operations resulted in the deportation of roughly 300,000 Germans and the expulsion of a half million Jews from areas near the front. In addition to these groups, ten thousand Crimean Tatars and several thousand Adzhars, Laz, gypsies, and others were swept up in the operations.

The motives and explanations for these operations include many different variables, of which two stand out. First were security concerns: The deported groups were accused of disloyalty or potential disloyalty if allowed to fall under enemy occupation. The second was economic nationalism. Demands among local populations to expropriate the lands and businesses of the foreigners, Germans, and Jews resonated with more general campaigns led by Russians during the war to nationalize and nativize the economy. As the war dragged on, security motives tended to give way to the nationalist ones. This was reflected in a series of administrative and legal decisions in 1915 that effectively ensured that the ownership of properties of deported groups would be permanently transferred to Russians, to other favored nationalities, or to the state.

deportations under the bolsheviks

After 1917, the Bolshevik regime attempted to use deportation to achieve revolutionary aims. The practice of deporting criminals to Siberia greatly expanded, and several campaigns resulted in attempts to deport entire social population categories. Most dramatic was the 19191920 "decossackization" campaign during the civil war, and the

19301933 deportation of kulaks (in theory, the relatively affluent peasants in each village).

The next wave of mass deportations was closely linked to World War II, and the international tensions that preceded its outbreak. Fears of foreign influence, hostility toward foreign capitalist states, and insecurity about the loyalty of certain ethnic groups that straddled the border led the Bolsheviks to turn to mass ethnic deportations. Already in 1934, operations to clear the border regions of "unreliable elements" began with a deportations of Finns, Latvians, Estonians, Germans, and Poles from Leningrad, which was considered to be a strategic border city. In February and March 1935, authorities deported more than 40,000 "unreliables" (mostly ethnic Germans and Poles) from Ukrainian border regions. This was the first of a series of mass deportations from border areas, including about 30,000 Finns sent from the Leningrad border regions in 1936 and 170,000 Koreans deported from the Far East to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The latter was the first ethnic cleansing of an entire nationality.

During the Great Purge of 19371938, deportation to the Siberian camps was a major part of the operations, which targeted former kulaks, criminals, "anti-Soviet elements," and in a separate set of "national operations," a series of ethnic groups, including: Koreans, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Finns, Latvians, Estonians, Afghans, and Iranians. In all, according to Terry Martin (1998, p. 858), approximately 800,000 individuals were arrested, deported, or executed in the national operations from 1935 to 1938. The regime seems to have been motivated in this wave of peacetime mass ethnic deportations by an attempt to secure the border zones in preparation for war, and by the failure of its attempt to spread revolution beyond the Soviet Union by granting wide cultural autonomy and support to ethnic groups that were divided by the Soviet border. Recognition of the failure of this latter strategy led the regime to turn in the opposite direction, toward prophylactic strikes to remove the same groups from border areas to prevent their own attraction to their co-ethnics abroad.

World War II brought mass deportations on an even greater scale. First, the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) and parts of Poland and Rumania as a result of the Nazi-Soviet agreement of August 1939 was followed by mass deportations of the cultural, political, and economic elites of these states. The scale of the arrests and deportations was remarkable. Pavel Polian estimates that 380,000 people were deported in these operations from early 1940 to June 1941.

After the German invasion of June 1941, Joseph Stalin ordered the mass deportation of entire nationalities. Thirteen national groups in all were rounded up by special police units and deported by train to Central Asia in operations that lasted only a few days each. The first operations occurred in August and September 1941, when 89,000 Finns and 749,613 Germans were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia. Hitler made no secret of his plans to use the German minority in the Soviet Union as a building block for his new racial order in the East, and his mass evacuation of ethnic Germans from the Baltic states to Germany in 1939 on the eve of the Soviet invasion of those states set the tone for Stalin's deportations of Germans. As in World War I, the regime deported ethnic Germans from the western and southern parts of the empire, but this time added the large German population in the middle Volga region. Germans accounted for nearly half of the wartime ethnic deportations. The Finns were deported largely from the Leningrad region in August 1941 as the Finnish Army was advancing toward the city.

From November 1943 to November 1944, the Kalmyks, Karachai, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, Crimean Greeks, Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Khemshils were all deported en masse to Central Asia. These deportations were accompanied by accusations of collaboration while under German occupation, but the long histories of resistance among some of these groups to Russian rule doubtless was an important factor as well. This was particularly true in Chechnya, where an insurgency formed during the war and conducted raids and assassinations against Soviet officials.

In the final analysis, of course, there can be no rational explanation for the mass deportation of entire nationalities. The deportations were recognized as early as the 1950s as one of Stalin's greatest crimes. The conditions of the deported groups were improved and restrictions on their movement were partially lifted between 1954 and 1956. The easing of conditions from 1954 to 1956 led to major unsanctioned return journeys of many of the Caucasus nationalities. This was a factor in the government's decisions from 1956 to 1958 to allow the Karachai, Balkars, Kalmyks, Chechens, and Ingush to return and to restore their local national governmental autonomy. But official rehabilitation for the Germans came only in 1964 and for the Crimean Tatars in 1967, and in neither case were their national autonomous governments restored, nor were these groups given permission to return to their homelands until the late 1980s and early 1990s. The mass deportations of the twentieth century left a bitter legacy that contributed to the determination of national movements from the Baltics to Chechnya to acquire full independence from Moscow.

See also: nationalities policies, soviet; nationalities policies, tsarist; pale of settlement; world war i; world war ii


Lohr, Eric. (2003). Nationalizing the Russian Empire: The Campaign against Enemy Aliens during World War I. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Martin, Terry. (1998). "The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing." The Journal of Modern History 70(4): 813861.

Nekrich, Aleksandr M. (1978). The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War. New York: Norton.

Eric Lohr

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DEPORTATION. Deportation, formally known as "removal," is a federal, statutory process by which a non-citizen is compelled to leave the United States. Though antecedents may be traced to colonial times, federal authority was first asserted in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. This legislation empowered the president to deport "alien enemies"—citizens of nations with which the United States was at war—and, more controversially, any resident alien judged to be "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." Arguably unconstitutional for many reasons, these laws were never tested in the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court established federal supremacy over state regulation of immigration in the mid-nineteenth century. The major federal laws of that time were "exclusion" statutes—restrictions on entry based upon various factors such as the nature of the contract by which an alien had been recruited abroad or personal characteristics, including physical and mental health, poverty, criminal records, and morality. In the 1880s the federal government also enacted a series of explicitly race-based exclusion laws aimed at Chinese laborers.

Deportation laws developed during this period primarily as an adjunct to the exclusion power. For example, the Act of October 19, 1888, authorized the deportation of an immigrant who had been "allowed to land contrary to the prohibition in the contract labor exclusion laws." This power was expanded by the Act of March 3, 1891, which authorized the deportation of "any alien who shall come into the United States in violation of law."

The Supreme Court upheld federal deportation power against numerous constitutional challenges in Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893), which involved the Act of May 5, 1892, known as "An Act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States," which authorized the deportation of any "Chinese alien" unlawfully in the United States and required all Chinese laborers to obtain a certificate of residence by the affidavit of a "credible" white witness. Though the Fong Yue Ting decision intimated that the deportation power was "absolute and unqualified," later decisions by the Court imposed important constitutional limitations, particularly as to procedural due process. The Court has, however, held that deportation is for constitutional purposes neither a criminal proceeding nor punishment. The effect of this doctrine is to render inapplicable many constitutional protections such as the ex post facto clause in Article I, sections 9 and 10; the Sixth Amendment right to counsel; the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial; and the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

In the early twentieth century deportation laws began to focus increasingly on ideology—especially "subversive" ideas such as anarchism and socialism—and, more generally, on post-entry conduct. Deportation was used as a powerful government tool of social control. The Immigration Act of 1917 authorized deportation for "subversive" advocacy without a time limit after entry. The socalled Palmer Raids, led by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919 and 1920, resulted in the arrest of thousands and the ultimate deportation of some five hundred aliens on political grounds. The number of deportations increased steadily throughout the early twentieth century, from a total of 256 in 1900 to 16,631 in 1930.

The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, also known as the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), was a major recodification of all existing immigration laws. It organized deportation laws into criteria for removal, among them pre-entry conduct; various grounds relating to entry control violations; and post-entry conduct, including criminal conduct, ideological grounds (which included advocacy of certain ideas and membership in proscribed groups), and reliance on public benefits. In addition, the INA was generally retroactive and, with only a few exceptions, lacked any statutes of limitation as to the time between commission of a deportable act and the institution of proceedings. The 1952 law also established a system of discretionary forms of "relief" or "waivers" from deportation for which an alien could apply to the Justice Department. The essential form of this system remained in place into the early twenty-first century.

The Immigration Acts of 1990 and 1991 re-categorized the grounds of deportation and introduced some statutes of limitation. More major changes were made by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which, among other provisions, eliminated judicial review of certain types of deportation orders, limited the scope of discretionary relief from deportation that could be granted by immigration judges, expanded the grounds of deportation, created new "summary exclusion" laws allowing the return of certain asylum-seekers, and created streamlined deportation procedures for those accused of terrorist activity. The even more comprehensive Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, among other effects, completely restructured the entire system of judicial review of removal orders, retroactively expanded many grounds of inadmissibility and removal, revised the discretionary waivers of removal, developed a system of mandatory detention, created expedited removal procedures for certain types of cases, and authorized increased state and local law enforcement involvement in removal proceedings. Court challenges to judicial review preclusion, retroactivity, and long-term detention met with some success in lower courts and in the Supreme Court case of INS v. St. Cyr (2001) and Zadvydas v. Davis (2001). Still, as a result of statutory changes and increased enforcement, the total number of removals increased from approximately 114,000 in 1997 to more than 180,000 in 2000.


Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, David A. Martin, and Hiroshi Motomura. Immigration and Citizenship: Process and Policy. 4th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West, 1998.

Clark, Jane Perry. Deportation of Aliens from the United States to Europe. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.

Gordon, Charles, Stanley Mailman, and Stephen Yale-Loehr. Immigration Law and Procedure. New York: Mathew Bender, 1998 (supplemented through May 2002).


See alsoImmigration ; McCarran-Walter Act ; Palmer Raids .

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Banishment to a foreign country, attended with confiscation of property and deprivation ofcivil rights.

The transfer of an alien, by exclusion or expulsion, from the United States to a foreign country. The removal or sending back of an alien to the country from which he or she came because his or her presence is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare, and without any punishment being imposed or contemplated. The grounds for deportation are set forth at 8 U.S.C.A. § 1251, and the procedures are provided for in §§ 1252–1254.

To further clarify deportation, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 121 S.Ct.2491, 150 L.Ed.2d 653 (2001), ruled that aliens who are under investigation cannot be held indefinitely. This would be in violation of the due process clause of the fifth amendment of the federal Constitution. Moreover, the Court established a maximum six-month detention period. At that point the alien must provide information as to why removal to the country of origin is not likely in the foreseeable future. For example, in this case, Kestutis Zadvydas was born to Lithuanian parents who were held in a German displaced persons camp; both Lithuania and Germany refused to accept him into their countries because he was not a citizen. If the government cannot rebut this information, the alien must be released from confinement. Finally, the Court declared that the federal courts are the proper place to review issues of deportation, rejecting the government's claim that immigration is strictly the province of the executive branch.

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress created the usa patriot act, Pub.L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001). The law deals with various means of combating terrorism and includes provisions that authorize the deportation of individuals who provide lawful assistance to any group that provides assistance to terrorists. Accused persons must convince the government that they did not know their contributions were being used for terrorist activities.

further readings

Cole, David, Jack X. Dempsey, and Carol E. Goldberg. 2002. Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security. New York: New Press.

Ngai, Mae M. 2003. "The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States. Law and History Review 21 (spring): 69–107.

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deportation, expulsion of an alien from a country by an act of its government. The term is not applied ordinarily to sending a national into exile or to committing one convicted of crime to an overseas penal colony (historically called transportation). In international law the right to send an alien to the country to which he or she owes allegiance (or to any country that will accept him or her) derives from a government's sovereignty. In the United States, deportation is the responsibility of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Except under the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 there was no American deportation law until the enactment in 1882 of a statute aimed at certain Chinese immigrants. The class of deportable aliens was subsequently enlarged several times, coming to include persons who before their entry into the United States were insane, feeble-minded, illiterate, or diseased in various ways. Many foreigners suspected of involvement in radical political activity were deported during the "Red Scare" of 1919. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 removed the statute of limitations on any kind of deportation.

The largest group of deported persons are those who have entered the country illegally. In the 1980s and 1990s expulsion of some of the numerous refugees from such Caribbean countries as Cuba and Haiti raised controversy. A deported alien cannot reenter the United States without special permission from the attorney general.

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