Trump Administration Changes Focus of USCIS Immigrant Citizenship Training to Assimilation

New Citizens Evan VucciAP
Evan Vucci/AP

The Trump administration has changed the focus of a Department of Homeland Security immigrant citizenship training program managed by USCIS to “assimilation,” a significant shift from the Obama era focus on “integration.”

The change of focus was made official in the announcement on Tuesday that “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for two competitive funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program.” (emphasis added)

“Both funding opportunities aim to prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Through these two funding opportunities, USCIS will offer up to $10 million in competitive funding for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country,” the announcement said.

The program, which began in 2009, President Obama’s first year in office, was previously called the “Citizenship and Integration Grant Program” (emphasis added) and “has awarded $63 million through 308 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 170,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship.”

The name change appears to have taken place this month. A screenshot taken from the Internet Wayback Machine shows the word “integration” was used to describe the grant program as recently as July 3.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated the name change of the grants program. This change in language reflects one of the primary goals of USCIS, which is to facilitate the full assimilation of lawful permanents into society,” Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for DHS, tells Breitbart News, adding:

Through the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, USCIS will ensure that lawful permanent residents seeking U.S. citizenship understand the fundamental civic values that unite all Americans. Through the teaching of English, U.S. history and government, and fostering a greater understanding and connection to key principles and institutions, the grant program strives to encourage a greater attachment to the Constitution and the American ideals that strengthen this Nation and secure our homeland.

As Breitbart News reported previously, “assimilation” into American culture by immigrants–the adoption of American mores, language, and culture, as well as the full fledged acceptance of our legal and political system–has been the hallmark of the American experience for two centuries.

That all changed in the early 1990s, when under the Clinton administration a phalanx of left wing social engineers were brought into top levels of the federal bureaucracy, especially the State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Homeland Security, where the word “integration”–with a markedly different connotation than what the word meant during the 1950s and 1960s–replaced traditional concepts of immigrant assimilation.

In his 1998 book, The Unmaking of Americans: How Multiculturalism Has Undermined the Assimilation Ethic, John J. Miller saw early signs of the damage this shift from “assimilation” to “integration” would have on the country.   “In his book, Miller contends that the United States is currently in the midst of an assimilation crisis—one brought about not by immigrants, but by American institutions that have surrendered in the struggle to help newcomers assimilate,” the Ashbrook Institute noted at the time.

Almost two decades later, the change of focus on the USCIS citizenship training program from “integration” to “assimilation” is a clear signal the Trump administration intends to reverse that damage.

The liberal establishment and mainstream media, predictably, has reacted unfavorably to the Trump administration’s bold move.

“Justin Gest, a Professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and author of The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Era of Immigration and Inequality, tells Newsweek that the two words have come to have quite different connotations,” Josh Lowe reported at Newsweek on Thursday:

“The history of the words assimilation and integration are not necessarily that different,” Gest says, but “through selective use, and adoption by different idealogues and commentators, they have developed divergent connotations.”

“Integration implies a two-way process, whereby the immigrant adapts to their new environment, and those in the new environment attempt to facilitate the adaptation and co-evolve with immigrants themselves.”

“Assimilation has come to connote a one-way process, where there is a monolithic understanding—a static understanding— of what society is like, and that the immigrants hold all responsibility for adapting to it, and society is subject to no obligation to change to welcome or facilitate the arrival of newcomers.”

Unlike most conservatives, Gest thinks this is a bad thing, and blames Donald Trump.

Gest told Newsweek.

Donald Trump has overtly sought to re-establish a bygone era of what he portrays as safety, stability and prosperity, and in trying to re-establish that era there is the implication that that era A) existed, and B) was something that actually was stable and that was static. Whereas in reality, there has never been that kind of stability in the American identity or American society.

Gest’s criticism of assimilation is in line with other earlier criticisms of assimilation in America made by London mayor Sadiq Khan and the controversial Muslim/progressive Democrat activist Linda Sarsour.

“London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan has continued his pro-Hillary Clinton tour of the United States by declaring that immigrants into the West should not be forced to assimilate,” Breitbart News reported in September.

“Muslims in the United States should not assimilate into American society, but should instead act “to please Allah and only Allah,” said Linda Sarsour, a rising star among progressive Democrats, as Breitbart News reported earlier this month.

Sarsour’s remarks were part of a July 1 speech given at the annual meeting of the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA. She said:

Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community. It is not to assimilate and to please any other people in authority. Our obligation is to our young people, is to our women, to make sure our women are protected in our community, and our top priority, even higher than all those priorities, is to please Allah and only Allah.

We are never to cower to the powers that be, we are never to give up any part of our identity so somebody else can open a door for us. If a door does not open, guess what we do? We build a new door and walk through our own door, because we have that right in this country to also open opportunities for us and other communities.

Laura Patching, the current chief of the Office of Citizenship Services at USCIS, is an Obama holdover who has worked at USCIS since 2001.

In April of this year she was a featured speaker at a national event held by Welcoming America, a national organization of pro-refugee organizations adamantly opposed to “assimilation” founded by David Lubell, and which received its early funding from George Soros.

It is unclear what impact the surprise announcement late Friday afternoon that Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has been named the new White House Chief of Staff will have on the implementation of this policy change, or other similar changes, in the near future at the department.


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