The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has filed a public comment with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service protesting a near quadrupling of the fee to process and copy the immigration files of Japanese immigrants to the United States in the 20th century, many of whom were incarcerated in Heart Mountain and other camps during World War II.
The proposed fee increases were published Jan. 4 in the Federal Register as part of a 200-page description of higher costs for humanitarian programs under USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security.
For thousands of families whose ancestors immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the documents in these records often mean the difference between a family legend and established fact. The records contain travel documents, shipping manifests and citizenship papers that flesh out the life stories of thousands of immigrants and their families.
We believe the proposed fee increase will create a hardship for the families of countless immigrants and citizens who are still piecing together their family histories. While we recognize that USCIS and all agencies have faced higher costs over the last few years, it is unfair to balance those costs on the backs of family members with a near quadrupling of fees.
We encourage history and genealogy organizations, other members of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium, and other immigration-rights groups to challenge these higher fees. Heart Mountain is reaching out to the Wyoming congressional delegation and filing comments to USCIS, which can be done here: https://www.regulations.gov.