Immigration Agency Removes ‘Nation of Immigrants’ From Mission Statement

A naturalization ceremony at Liberty State Park. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The United States is a nation of immigrants no longer, at least according to the mission statement for the federal agency that issues green cards and visas.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services revised its mission statement Thursday to remove the phrase “nation of immigrants,” director L. Francis Cissna told staffers in a email.

Here’s the old 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.”

And the new one:

“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.”

In his email to staffers, Cissna wrote, “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.”

Cissna goes on to explain the removal of the word “customers” from the mission statement, which he says “leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.”

Though the change to the mission statement is new and attention grabbing, USCIS under Cissna has quietly made life harder for potential immigrants for months, as the Times notes.

The agency has increased scrutiny of visa applications for foreign workers whom American companies seek to hire; it has changed the asylum application process to discourage people from seeking safe haven in the United States; and it has added steps to the process for foreigners already in the country to obtain legal permanent residency, or a green card.

After Cissna’s email, The Intercept reached out to a spokesperson for USCIS and asked if the agency has changed its view of whether the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. “The statement speaks for itself,” the spokesperson said.

Immigration Agency: U.S. No Longer a ‘Nation of Immigrants’