Yes, it is fair. I have seen people be deported for things that they did more than 20 years ago. Back then, they weren't enforcing things as much and in 1996 the laws changed and many things that were not deportable crimes suddenly became deportable crimes, and yes, it has been litigated up to the Supreme Court that it is not fair to go backwards like that, but the Supreme Court decided that Congress can regulate immigration laws and the penalties are not criminal penalties, they are civil penalties, meaning that they are not to serve any jail time, they are just removed from the U.S. While that may seem to be a criminal penalty, it is not. And then after 9/11, they really got down to business. So is it fair? Probably not. Is it legal? Yes it is. So until the law changes, many people are at risk.
Your boyfriend might have some waivers available to him, but he needs a good attorney to look into the possibilities of those waivers. The problem is that he came back in illegally after deportation. That is a criminal offense with a maximum of two years in prison.
As his girlfriend, they probably will not talk to you. It would have to be an immediate relative or an attorney. You can look for an attorney at http://www.ailalawyer.com/. And here is the link to the detention centers:
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