July 14, 2008

Wyden Praises Department of Homeland Security for Protecting Delivery of Immigration Documents

Washington, D.C. - Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today praised the Department of Homeland Security for agreeing to change the method used to mail permanent residence cards in a move designed to prevent identity theft and reduce the number of lost or stolen cards.

"This is excellent news and I appreciate the attention to this important matter by Secretary Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Security and the Citizenship and Immigration Service," Wyden said. "This is a relatively simple change in response to customer concerns that will make these cards more secure and keep them out of the hands of identity thieves and others who would misuse them."

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been using first-class mail to send Lawful Permanent Residence cards to recipients, which means the cards used for identification and immigration purposes are often left in unsecured mail boxes, delivered to outdated addresses or at other risks posed by regular mail.

In a June 10, 2008, letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Wyden said he learned of the problem from constituents who reported lost or stolen cards and suggested the DHS begin using a mail service that requires a signature for receipt. Wyden also said that under the current system recipients are forced to pay substantial additional fees for replacement cards

In response to Wyden, Jonathan Scharfen, acting director of the USCIS, said the agency "is now working toward replacing first-class mailing of security identity documents later this year with priority mail with automated delivery confirmation" that would allow tracking of documents from production through delivery. The Secure Mailing Initiative would also allow USCIS customers to check delivery status online or by calling a toll-free number.