Better Late Than Never

In my last post, Not Worth the Wait, I complained about my research experience with USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Sometimes I complain for effect – that is, to get a response.  This time I was just publicly venting for no reason other than to post about my mysterious letter and lack of photographs.  So I was surprised when I received an email from USCIS’ Chief of the Historical Research Branch. Apparently word gets around (I didn’t realize the Department of Homeland Security read my blog)! 

I was very happy that they took the time to contact me, so I’d like to present what they had to say as a follow-up to my previous rant post.  The first error was my own.  I complained that I had the file number all along and didn’t need the index search.  But, apparently if I had looked a little more closely at the information on the USCIS web site, I would have realized the index search was not necessary at all.

Next, USCIS apologized for what I referred to as their “amusing letter”.  The letter used a “boiler plate” format, and two reviewing offices missed the grammatical errors.

But the biggest surprise of all?  USCIS did have a copy of the letter I previously received in the DoJ FOIA request years ago, and they emailed me a much more legible copy of it.  The email explained that this should have been included in the file they sent me.  USCIS said:

The omission of the letter from the copy sent to you by Genealogy was our error.  I am currently reviewing all record request procedures with the Genealogy supervisor to ensure the same error does not occur again.

When a naturalized citizen was convicted of a crime, the court would notify the cognizant INS office.  The office would then investigate to see if the person had committed any crimes in the five-year period prior to their naturalization.  In my great-grandfather’s case, his record was clean and this was his first offense. Now that I have a legible letter with a conviction date, I can investigate further.  And maybe, like Sheri suggested in the comments of the last post, find my missing photo.  Unfortunately it will be a mug shot, but a photo is a photo!

USCIS said, “We do our best to learn lessons from experiences such as yours to improve the USCIS Genealogy Program.”  This is great news to genealogists everywhere!


7 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never

  1. Thank you. This is useful information. I have many of my ancestors naturalization records, but expect there is more to the story with some of them. i will try this and hope not to be a subject of Homeland security.

  2. Wow! You have the ears of those in high places. Maybe I should send all of my genealogical problems to you to be solved. LOL

    I hope you find your photo, or, mug shot. Keep us posted.

  3. Three cheers for our dollars at work! Since I am in St. Louis watching the VA Hospital all but implode due to obscenely awful care it’s heartening to see some part of the Federal government making an effort. I’d truly rather it was the VA, but it’s something!

  4. As an employee of the federal Government myself, I can say with all honesty that the majority of us are hard-working and conscientious! But, as a taxpayer, I’ve also seen things that make you want to pull your hair out! I’m just glad genealogy is getting some respect.

  5. It pays to blog! It’s great that your post got noticed. I may pay to get me grandparent’s files after all.

  6. Aha! We do have a voice and it is getting louder and clearer each and every day.

    Kinda of creepy that it was Homeland Security involved. Does this mean that you and all your friends will now get the extra special grope, er I mean pat-down at the airports? LOL

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