Late last month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed its mission statement to remove a passage that describes the U.S. as a “nation of immigrants.”
The following is the new mission statement as it appears on the agency’s website:
“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.”
Here is USCIS’s previous mission statement:
“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 announced the change in an email sent to staffers, stating that “I believe this simple, straightforward statement clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.”
The director also noted that the new change eliminates the word “customers” due to being a misrepresentation of their role. The agency should not be known as a “mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms.”
Cissna became the head of the USCIS in October 2017. He previously served as director of immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security and was a volunteer immigration policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The change is consistent with the Trump Administration’s immigration agenda. Since taking office, President Trump has made moves to crack down on undocumented immigrants by putting an end to programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and giving more power to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Additionally, the administration has also set its sights on legal immigrants, proposing an end to the diversity visa lottery and placing limitations on the H-1B visa program.
Immigration officials say the new mission statement reflects Cissna’s focus on “fairness, lawfulness, efficiency, as well as protecting American workers and safeguarding the homeland.” However, human rights organizations have said that removing the immigration line from the mission statement does not alter the fact that the United States was built by immigrants.