Village of Kaser Opens Much Anticipated Passport Application Center Thanks to Efforts of Congressman Lawler's Office
By M. C. Millman
The Village of Kaser is opening its doors today to passport applicants after years of working to achieve this monumental goal.
"I am thrilled that the State Department has finally approved the Village of Kaser's request to process passport applications after twelve long years - a measure which will significantly reduce wait times and improve the quality of service for tens of thousands of residents of the Hudson Valley," Congressman Mike Lawler shares exclusively with Rockland Daily. "A special thanks to my District Director, Rafi Silberberg, for his tireless efforts and collaboration with the Village in order to get this done. I will never stop fighting for my constituents, and I look forward to continuing to deliver for the residents of the 17th District."
While the Village of Kaser received the approval to become a passport application acceptance facility in November, as reported by Rockland Daily here, it took three more months to reach the milestone event that took place this morning when the Village opened its doors, and the nine-member, specially trained passport staff was able to serve the first applicants to apply for passports.
Recognizing the tremendous need in the community for passport assistance, the Village has been working for years to achieve today's goal. Offering passport application events for more than a decade and working to impress upon government officials the tremendous need in Rockland County yielded the same results year after year.
"We would approach elected officials," a Village official shares with Rockland Daily, "and they would write a letter to the Department of State with our request, but we were always refused for the same reason."
Each time, the Village was told that their services were not needed since passport applicants could go to the County Clerk in New City or to one of the local post offices to take care of their passport needs.
"But the post offices never offered enough appointments," the Kaser official continued. "At one point, the Department of State checked into the post offices and insisted they take more appointments, but that was very short-lived."
But all that changed when Congressman Lawler took an interest in the Village's efforts.
"Rather than write a letter and follow the same process that others tried before to no avail," the village official says, "Congressman Mike Lawler and his District Director Rafi Silberberg, not only came to us to see what we needed, but then they had the congressman's office conduct the appropriate research and turned up data that Congressman Lawler presented in person at several meetings with the Department of State until they were convinced based on the density of our population and the many large families that we did actually need a new passport office."
Today, the new passport office located in the Village of Kaser is taking appointments during the Village's regular hours, with the understanding being that the hours will expand shortly to include Sunday and after-hour appointments. Passport photos are also available on location.
"This is something that will benefit everyone in Monsey, everyone in Rockland, and across the board," Rafi Silberberg shares with Rockland Daily.
The Village is not receiving any additional government funding for this program other than the $35 portion of the fee collected by every passport office for the application.
"We are hoping that those funds will cover the additional staff," the Village representative shares.
The Village of Kaser is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays until noon. Appointments can be scheduled by calling the Village at 845-352-2932.