Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today reintroduced H.R. 2595, the bipartisan Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act (Secure Mail Initiative Act). If passed, the Secure Mail Initiative Act would ensure that sensitive documents, such as green cards, travel documents, and employment authorization forms, are received by their intended recipients. The Act would also update the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Secure Mail Initiative (USCIS SMI) so that recipients can choose signature-required delivery for those documents to more reliably guarantee receipt. The Senate version of this legislation is cosponsored by Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“I am proud to be a joint author, along with Congressman Woodall and our Senate counterparts, of the Secure Mail Initiative Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will ensure that immigration documents safely reach their intended destination, saving the recipients from suffering massive financial burdens and keeping sensitive documents from the hands of terrorists or human traffickers,” Rep. Speier said.

“Good public policy can always be traced back to good public service, and that’s certainly true of this bill,” said Rep. Woodall.  “On many occasions I’ve worked with constituents in my district who have directly experienced the personal and financial damage that occurs when their requested USCIS documents do not arrive.  I’m always happy to help constituents recover these vital documents on a case-by-case basis, but H.R. 2595 addresses the underlying problem by offering applicants a mechanism that prevents them from being lost in the first place.  I was proud to partner with Rep. Speier in this effort last Congress – where it was passed unanimously by the House – and I welcome the opportunity to work with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move it to the President’s desk this Congress.”

“From green cards, to travel documents, and employment authorizations, it is imperative we have reliable ways to guarantee that immigration documents from the Department of Homeland Security are not only delivered to the correct address but are also safely and timely received by the addressee,” said Sen. Menendez.  “At a time when any immigration mix-up may qualify an individual to be prioritized for deportation, this legislation is an important step towards reducing unnecessary disruption in the lives of immigrant families.”

“When sensitive immigration documents such as green cards, travel papers, and employment authorizations wind up in the wrong hands the consequences for families can be dire,” Sen. Perdue said. “These situations are easily avoidable with simple safety measures like signature confirmation or in-person pick up options. By making these options available within the Secure Mail Initiative, DHS and USPS will be able to provide peace of mind and more effective service to customers.”

“Too many New Yorkers who have gone through the long process of applying for their green cards or work permits have had the rug pulled out from under them when their I.D. card was lost in the mail,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This bill would make sure that green cards and work permits end up in the right hands and enable New York immigrants to keep their hard-earned I.D. cards safe.”

In 2011, USCIS completed implementation of the Secure Mail Initiative, which requires permanent resident cards, travel documents, and employment authorization documents to be sent using U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation that monitors delivery via a tracking number. Despite this change, there are reports nationwide that these documents do not always reach their intended recipients, even though the Delivery Confirmation system indicates the items have been delivered. This can result in great costs for the recipients, who are forced to seek copies of these critical documents, and the federal government: For example, people waiting for a green card have no recourse except to re-apply while paying an additional fee of $450. Meanwhile, USCIS’s immigration processing system is undermined and it is possible for bad actors to steal or misuse the documents in ways that threaten national security. The Secure Mail Initiative Act would close that loophole by allowing recipients to elect signature-required delivery at no extra cost to taxpayers.