The United States is a nation of immigrants no longer, at least according
to the mission statement for the federal agency that issues green cards
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
revised its mission statement Thursday to remove the phrase “nation of immigrants,” director L. Francis
Cissna told staffers in a email.
Here’s the old 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.”
And the new one:
“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.”
In his email to staffers, Cissna wrote, “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.”
Cissna goes on to explain the removal of the word “customers”
from the mission statement, which he says “leads to the erroneous
belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people,
are whom we ultimately serve.”
Though the change to the mission statement is new and attention grabbing,
USCIS under Cissna has quietly made life harder for potential immigrants
The agency has increased scrutiny of visa applications for foreign workers
whom American companies seek to hire; it has changed the asylum application
process to discourage people from seeking safe haven in the United States;
and it has added steps to the process for foreigners already in the country
to obtain legal permanent residency, or a green card.
After Cissna’s email,
The Intercept reached out to a spokesperson for USCIS and asked if the agency has changed its view
of whether the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. “The statement speaks
for itself,” the spokesperson said.
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