The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services removed a “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement on Thursday, prompting concerns from immigrant and refugee advocates.
The new statement, which can be found on USCIS’ website, 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 old 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.”
The director of the agency, L. Francis Cissna, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, explained the change.
“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,” he wrote. “We will also go forward by ending use of the term ‘customer’ as an agency when referring to applicants or petitioners—a reminder that we are always working for the American people.”
Immigrant and refugee organizations blasted the change and criticized the Trump administration for harboring “insidious racism.”
“Our nation is one built by immigrants—removing this language does nothing to change that fact, it only reveals the insidious racism harbored by those in this administration,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection for Human Rights First.