Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act (H.R. 2595).

Chairman Goodlatte: H.R. 2595, the Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act, directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to allow immigration benefits recipients to elect to pay a fee to have their immigration documents sent to them via U.S. mail, through the hold for pickup or signature confirmation service.

The bill is short, but will have a great impact in the lives of many foreign nationals seeking to play by the rules, and legally live and work in the United States.

Currently, immigration documents are delivered via Priority Mail through the U.S. Postal Service.  And while delivery can be monitored through use of a tracking number, there are numerous incidents of individuals not in fact receiving the document that the U.S. Postal Service notes as delivered.

One obvious concern in such a case is that the document was intercepted by an unscrupulous individual who will attempt to fraudulently use it.  Another concern is the cost and time it takes for the individual to reapply for the document – which at this point is typically the only recourse if a document has gone missing.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman discussed this problem in its FY 16 report, noting that delays in receipt of immigration documents can adversely affect the ability of individuals to work or prove lawful immigration status.

H.R. 2595 imposes no cost to the U.S. taxpayer, since if an individual elects for his or her document to be delivered via hold for pickup or signature required, the immigrant must first pay a fee set by USCIS that covers the cost of such delivery as well as any administrative costs for the agency.

H.R. 2595 alone is not the sole remedy necessary to fix the issue of immigration documents not being delivered to the intended recipient.  USCIS has noted that it is working to ensure that applicants or petitioners ensure their mailing addresses are up to date throughout the adjudication process.  And USCIS Director Cissna has just announced that he will form a working group to address the problem and implement changes.  I am pleased that he is taking this so seriously and I look forward to working with him on this issue.

This bill is one possible fix for the problem.  This Committee continues to work in its oversight capacity with USCIS to ensure that other remedies are put into place as well.

H.R. 2595 is a good anti-fraud and good government measure and I urge my colleagues to support it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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