The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency in charge of immigration services in the country, has recently updated its mission statement. The most notable of these updates is the removal of the phrase “nation of immigrants.” Rather, the agency’s new mission statement focusses on "safeguarding its integrity" and "securing the homeland."
According to one USCIS official, “The agency's new mission statement was developed and debuted within the agency by USCIS Director Cissna during his first conference with USCIS senior leadership from around the world." The official said the new mission statement, “reflects the director's guiding principles for the agency. This includes a focus on fairness, lawfulness and efficiency, protecting American workers and safeguarding the homeland. These key priorities are reflected in the agency's new mission statement."
The full new mission statement reads as follows:
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation's lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values."
According to one former Department of Homeland Security official, the original mission statement asserted the agency’s devotion to maintaining "America's promise as a nation of immigrants."
The old mission statement reads as follows:
"USCIS secures America's promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system."
USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna sent a letter to employees that reads, “We answer to the American people who look to us to ensure that people who are eligible for immigration benefits receive them and those who are not eligible -- either because they don't qualify or because they attempt to qualify by fraud -- don't receive them, and that those who would do us harm are not granted immigration benefits.”
The agency will also no longer refer to applicants as “customers.” Cissna says this change is to serve as a reminder that the agency “is always working for the American people.” However, Cissna did not provide a rationale for eliminating the words “America's promise as a nation of immigrants."
Speaking in a statement about the mission statement changes, Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at D.C.-based Human Rights First, said:
"Our nation is one built by immigrants—removing this language does nothing to change that fact, it only reveals the insidious racism harbored by those in this administration. It is clear from the language and policies put forth by President Trump and his hard-line immigration extremists that they will stop at nothing to demonize and dehumanize immigrants and refugees, who have often fled violence and persecution in search for a better life for themselves and their children."