Leading U.S. Immigration Agency Removes "Nation Of Immigrants" From Its Mission Statement

Photographed by Sage McAvoy.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency in charge of granting citizenship to those in the process of becoming Americans, is removing a passage from its mission statement that refers to the United States as a "nation of immigrants."

The change in the agency, which is the administrative arm of the Deparment of Homeland Security, was reported by The Intercept on Thursday. An USCIS spokesperson told the outlet the new mission statement would go into effect immediately.

USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna announced the change in an email sent to staffers and obtained by The Intercept. In it, Cissna criticized the use of "customers" in the previous mission statement and stressed that the "use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve."

The agency's previous mission statement read: "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."

It now has been changed to: "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 change is consistent with President Trump's immigration agenda. Ever since taking office, the president has taken steps to crack down on undocumented immigrants by ending programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and giving more power to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

But the Trump administration has also set its sights on legal immigrants, proposing an end to the diversity visa lottery and "chain migration," the term used by the president to describe the decades-long ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents and siblings for legal residency. (Recently, there's been questions as to whether the parents of first lady Melania Trump benefitted from said "chain migration.")

Many have said for long time that the United State is a nation built by immigrants, a melting pot. But the USCIS change and most of the Trump administration's policies point at an era where America's ghostwriters are not welcomed. 2018 is a long way from "E Pluribus Unum."

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