Wyden Seeks to Combat Immigration ID Theft with Change in Homeland Security Policy
Constituents Report Important Identification Documents Lost or Stolen
WASHINGTON, DC - Responding to confirmed reports from constituents about lost or stolen identification documents, US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff requesting a reexamination of the agency's procedures for mailing lawful permanent resident cards. Currently the Homeland Security Department sends these important federal documents via first class mail, instead of certified mail, leaving them vulnerable to theft or loss if sent to the wrong location or left in mail boxes.
In the letter, Wyden requests a change to certified mail, which requires a signature for delivery, and would significantly reduce the chances of foul play.
"A number of my constituents have reported that these documents have been lost or stolen before being received," said Wyden in the letter. "I am concerned about the risk of leaving these documents in unsecured mailboxes, delivering them to outdated addresses, and other risks posed by the first-class mail process."
The full text of the letter is below:
June 10, 2008
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the safety and security of the Department of Homeland Security's procedures for mailing lawful permanent resident (LPR) cards to recipients.
Several Oregonians have recently brought to my attention the fact that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses first-class mail, as opposed to certified mail, to send LPR cards. Because LPR cards are used for identification and immigration purposes, I am concerned about the risk of leaving these documents in unsecured mailboxes, delivering them to outdated addresses, and other risks posed by the first-class mail process.
A number of my constituents have reported that these documents have been lost or stolen before being received. Inquiries by my staff revealed that, in a number of instances, documents issued by the DHS and mailed via first-class mail failed to reach the intended recipients. After further investigation, my staff determined that the documents were stolen from mail boxes or left at an old address even though the address had been updated. In such instances, DHS instructs the recipient to reapply and to pay substantial new fees to obtain a replacement document. This causes undue hassle, delay, expense, and security concerns.
I believe that certified mail, because it requires a signature for receipt, would provide many advantages regarding the delivery of LPR cards. Increasing incidents of identity theft, maintaining the integrity of official government identification documents, and potential national security implications all militate for handling these documents with the higher level of security that certified mail offers.
While I recognize that sending LPR cards via certified mail would entail higher costs, I encourage DHS to examine this option. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. I look forward to receiving any information you can provide on the feasibility of sending LPR cards by certified mail.
United States Senator