Re: Help Stop USCIS Genealogy Program Fee Hikes

Chuck Weinstein

Just to add my two kopecks to this discussion, JewishGen is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose rules prevent it from lobbying or taking a political position.  The resources from JewishGen are freely available to all with donors receiving some extra perks in search aids.  Litvak SIG is a separate organization, but their databases are also freely available via JewishGen.  Their donors get advance abilities to search recent additions to their databases.  There is nothing hidden behind paywalls through either organization.  That is irrelevant to the discussion of federal cost increases that will effectively eliminate taxpayer funded material from public view.  USCIS is a government agency which holds files that are very useful for genealogical purposes and help family historians break though many brick walls.  Their genealogy service has provided much useful information, but the proposed costs will significantly cut down usage of the service, which, based on experience, will lead to it being eliminated in the future.  That seems to be part of the plan.  Conflating government services provided at a profit to the US Government with services provided by a non-profit organization that depends on donations to survive is neither useful nor correct.  It is up to you as to whether or not you wish to comment to the government about the proposed increases in costs, but you are way off base in criticizing JewishGen and other non profits for asking people to donate a small amount for immediate or easier access to data that is otherwise freely available.  I am neither a spokesperson nor an officer of JewishGen, Inc., just a researcher who is a donor, but appreciates the services provided over the years in helping me with my family history.

Chuck Weinstein
Bellport, NY

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