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Researching Deportation and Exclusion Records

  • Deportation is the removal of a noncitizen already in the United States
  • Exclusion is the refusal of admission by a Board of Special Inquiry (BSI)

On this Page

This page is a short overview of different record sets relevant to researching deportation and exclusion records at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For additional information about the individual series, follow the given links to the more detailed record-specific pages.

Not all deportation and exclusion records survived. If the event occurred after 1892 there is a chance that records may still exist. The Immigration Act of 1891 created a federal immigration office charged with enforcing deportation and exclusions. The date of action determines where researchers should look for Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) deportation or exclusion files.

Action before April 1, 1944

Deportation and warrant files, exclusion files, and files related to a Board of Special Inquiry (BSI) dating before April 1, 1944, may be found within the Subject and Policy Files, 1906-1957 (NAID 559947).

It is important to note, not all of these files survived. Records from most ports were deemed temporary and no longer exist. In the majority of cases, exclusion files exist only for cases appealed to INS headquarters in Washington, DC. There is usually no surviving record for non-appealed exclusion hearings.

Actions since April 1, 1944

On April 1, 1944, the INS began filing all deportation and exclusion paperwork in Alien Files (A-Files), a consolidated file that included all records of a specific immigrant. 

There are also a small number of post-1944 enforcement cases that appear within the Subject and Policy Files, 1906-1957 (NAID 559947).