The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has changed its mission statement, taking out the phrases “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” and “promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship,” and adding the words “protecting Americans, securing the homeland.”
The word “customer” was also removed from the statement. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna explained the change, saying, “Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.” He also stated that the agency’s priorities include “protecting American workers [and] safeguarding the homeland.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Asian Americans Advancing Justice released the following statement in response:
“As U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ name clearly states, its purpose is to serve citizens and immigrants, not function as law enforcement. This change is just one of a daily onslaught of attacks on immigrant communities that is rooted in nativism and fear-mongering about immigrants. Director Cissna can change the words on a website but he cannot change our nation’s core values as a nation of immigrants.
Advancing Justice will continue to closely monitor USCIS’s policy changes and actions, and fight for the right of all Americans, including immigrant Americans, to sponsor close family members and to become U.S. citizens.
The “petitioners” that Director Cissna refers to are actually American people and the “applicants” are future Americans (immigrants). There are more than 20 million naturalized citizens, with immigrants from Asia being the largest group of naturalized citizens. As of 2014, 8.9 million lawful permanent residents were eligible to naturalize.
We will work even harder to assist Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other immigrants to naturalize, both to protect themselves from this administration and to fully participate in our democracy.”