I would not assume from these facts that he was deported, but further investigation is required. An experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney should question your husband in greater detail about the papers he signed, what happened and what he was told when he was returned at age 17. The fact that he was under the age of 18 at the time could possibly be significant. Whether he was ever included as the dependent of a beneficiary of a visa petition or labor certification application could be sufficient. You should consult with a competent immigration attorney who can advise you on the legal options and obstacles.
Scott D. Pollock
Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
105 W. Madison, Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60602
fax: (312) 444-1950
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"He does not have a criminal background here in the US." That statement may not be true. Entering the US without authorization after being deported is a violation of criminal law. If he is caught again, he may be charged with a criminal law violation.
Given that your husband entered unlawfully after being deported, he likely has little chance of adjusting status.
However, you and your husband still should review the specific facts with his attorney to see what legal options he has. There is always a chance that he fits into at least one of many exceptions in immigration laws.