The genealogy boom has hit a roadblock. The Trump administration plans huge fee hikes for immigration records.Historians in the News
tags: genealogy, Trump, immigration records
At a time when researching family history is booming, the nation’s immigration and citizenship agency has proposed dramatically hiking fees to access records from the first half of the 20th century. The move has outraged professional and amateur genealogists, who argue that the increase would effectively put valuable immigration information out of reach for many.
The fees would nearly triple, and in many cases, they would rise nearly 500 percent to $385 to obtain a single paper file, not including the records request fee of a proposed $240. The little-known Genealogy Program administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allows genealogists, family historians and other researchers to obtain citizenship and alien registration files, visa applications and other records documenting the lives of deceased immigrants who arrived in the United States between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries.
The waves of western and southern Europeans who came through Ellis Island at the turn of the century are included in the records, as are Jews who sought refuge from Nazi Germany before World War II and Mexican guest farmworkers who helped stem the labor shortage during the conflict. They were followed by Holocaust survivors and those fleeing communist rule in Central Europe and the Soviet Union.
The files sometimes include hundreds of pages, documenting long waits at Ellis Island or, in the case of Japanese, Italians and Germans who lived in the United States during World War II, FBI reports about the immigrant’s friends, family and political activities.
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