The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stripped out all references to immigrants in their new mission statement. The agency removed a line that calls the U.S. a “nation of immigrants” late Thursday. Director L. Francis Cissna wrote in a email to staff members that USCIS exists to help the “American people,” not immigrants and U.S. citizens wanting to sponsor them, according to The Intercept.
The new mission statement reads:
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 previous 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.
USCIS is the agency responsible for issuing green cards and visas, and for naturalizing citizens, and is predominantly funded by application fees for these services. Cissna’s email also confirmed that USCIS would no longer use the word “customer” to describe immigrants applying for green cards, visas, or applications for naturalization, arguing the word gave a false impression of the purpose of the USCIS.
“In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits…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.”
The changes don’t change the actual work that USCIS does, according to Vox. But it makes a symbolic statement that being American is “a matter of blood and soil, of birth and descent, rather than an idea that anyone can be proud of [America] regardless of where they were born.”
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