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Dept. of Homeland Security proposes 500% increase in fees to access family history records

Genealogy family history theme with old family photos and documents (Getty Images)

The government is considering huge fee hikes on genealogy searches. And Utah Senator Mitt Romney is trying to stop it.

The Department of Homeland Security proposed making search fees jump from $65 to $240 dollars, and records fees go from $65 up to $385.

This proposed change comes after they raised the fees 3 years ago. In 2016 the search fee went up from $20 dollars to $65, and searches dropped by 30%.

The fees are proposed to take place on the little known Genealogy Program from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Senator Romney says this would hurt family historians, genealogists and others who need to see those documents of their ancestors who came to the US in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“I understand USCIS’s budget relies primarily on user fees, and the southern border crisis continues to strain the agency’s ability to fulfill its mission,” Romney wrote in a letter Wednesday. “However, I am concerned that drastically raising the Genealogy Program’s fees would harm genealogists across the United States without addressing your budgetary concerns.”

He has asked the agency to send him their annual fee revenue numbers by the 18th as well as what the proposed raise in fees would fund.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not respond to phone and email messages for comment from the Deseret News. But it told the Washington Post: “USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis.”

Romney is also asking others to speak up before the public comment ends on December 30th.