WASHINGTON D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a 500% increase in fees to access certain genealogy records and Utah Senator Mitt Romney is trying to stop it.
The fees relate to records obtained through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
DHS proposed making search fees jump from $65 to $240 dollars, and records fees go from $65 up to $385.
In a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, Romney said, “Any increase in the Genealogy Program’s two separate user fees should be done after careful consideration that it would not unduly burden those who rely on the records.”
Professional amateur genealogists argue the increase would effectively put valuable immigration information out of the reach for many.
Romney stated, “This rule would greatly inhibit Utahns’ access to these records.
The USCIS said it is raising fees across the board to avoid a $1.26 billion annual budget shortfall. The agency says the hikes are needed to cover operational costs and to pay for better vetting of applicants.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement last month.
On his Facebook page, Romney asked those concerned about the fee hike to speak up before the public comment period closes on December 30.