The government’s immigration agency has flipped its Mission Statement to put Americans and assimilation first, immigration-applicants and diversity second.
The new mission statement reverses the policy under former President Barack Obama, which described U.S. USCIS officials as receptionists for foreign “customers,” despite the danger of terrorism and fraud.
The new statement describes USCIS officials as guardians of the law and as protectors of Americans:
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.
The older mission statement said:
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.
The new statement also drops the phrase “nation of immigrants.” That term is used by progressives and CEOs to suggest that there are no shared ideas among the 270 million Americans which differentiate them from the roughly 50 million immigrants who were born outside the United States. Instead, the USCIS will emphasize immigrants’ duty to assimilate into Americans’ vibrant, small-government culture.
USCS director L. Francis Cissna explained the new focus in an email to his staff:
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 American people, through Congress, have entrusted USCIS with the stewardship of our legal immigration programs that allow foreign nationals to visit, work, live, and seek refuge in the United States. We are also responsible for ensuring that those who naturalize are dedicated to this country, share our values, assimilate into our communities, and understand their responsibility to help preserve our freedom and liberty.
What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as “customers” promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve. All applicants and petitioners should, of course, always be treated with the greatest respect and courtesy, but we can’t forget that we serve the American people.
USCIS employees take pride in helping prospective immigrants who desire to be part of our country, but they are also dedicated to ensuring we have an immigration system of which we can be proud. 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. Thus, as we begin our work under the banner of our new mission statement, we will also go forward by ending use of the term “customer” as an agency when referring to applicants or petitioners – a reminder that we are always working for the American people.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Sharon Scheidhauer, a public affairs officer, for USCIS, said:
When he was appointed, USCIS Director Cissna outlined several priorities that reflect his guiding principles for the agency. These principles focus on fairness, lawfulness, efficiency, as well as protecting American workers and safeguarding the homeland …
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. It 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.
Under Cissna, the agency has reviewed and improved its procedures for validating claims by would-be visitors, migrants, and guest-workers. For example, the agency has tightened oversight of visa requests from H-1B guest workers, travelers from terrorism-prone states and international couples who say they are going to get married.
Media coverage of the decision downplayed Cissna’s explanation.
Every story on USCIS removing the 1950s ad slogan "nation of immigrants" from its mission statement quotes the director's letter to his staff announcing the change. No story I found posted the actual letter — not NYT, WaPo, USA Today, NPR, no one. So here it is: pic.twitter.com/HDcHtTbCH6
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) February 23, 2018
Advocates for greater diversity and immigration slammed the new focus on Americans and assimilation.
Why remove such a hallowed phrase? https://t.co/PwjxkVpSm8
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) February 23, 2018
The changes to the USCIS mission statement are PROFOUND. No longer any mention of immigrants becoming citizens—and a strong implication that they never really can become Americans. https://t.co/4WKjPTxqSC
— Dara Lind (@DLind) February 22, 2018
You cannot make this stuff up. These folks want to whitewash history. Originalists, my foot. https://t.co/aJVGi1hW93
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) February 22, 2018
We should stop to reflect about the many opportunities that America will lose because of the attitudes reflected in removing the phrase #nationofimmigrants from the @USCIS mission statement+ask ourselves whether this is really the country we want to be. https://t.co/m3ZgRR9UIS
— HIAS (@HIASrefugees) February 22, 2018