U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ newly revamped mission statement makes it very clear: the agency is no longer in the business of helping immigrants.
The new statement not only removes a line referring to the United States as a “nation of immigrants” but also does not contain any reference to immigrants at all.
USCIS director L. Francis Cissna explained the change by claiming that USCIS isn’t supposed to help immigrants but instead “the American people”.
Additionally, the agency’s mission is no longer to provide “accurate and useful information” to their “customers”. Cissna particularly disliked the word “customer”.
“Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve,” he wrote in a statement to The Intercept.
The removal of the word “customer” is also odd since USCIS is one of few federal agencies not funded primarily by taxes but instead by applicants’ fees. The employers and immigrants who apply for visas and green cards pay USCIS for the services. That is the very definition of a “customer”.
Explore the changes for yourself. Here is the new mission statement:
“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.”
And here is the previous 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.”
These changes are disappointing, though not entirely surprising. They reflect a new mission and agenda.