On February 22, 2018, L. Francis Cissna, the Director of U.S. Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced a significant change to the agency's mission statement that aligns with the Trump Administration's "Buy American, Hire American" directives designed to protect American workers. This change went into effect immediately.
USCIS is the arm of the U.S. Department of Justice that processes nonimmigrant visas, permanent residence and U.S. citizenship to those qualifying for such benefits. Employing 19,000 government employees and contractors, USCIS works at more than 200 offices in the U.S. and has locations around the world.
The revised 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.
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.
The revised statement is meant to reflect the guiding principles of Mr. Cissna, who was picked by President Donald Trump. Mr. Cissna confirmed that the agency answers to the American people who look to USCIS to ensure that individuals eligible for immigration benefits receive them, and those who are not eligible, either because they don't qualify or because they attempt to qualify by fraud, will not receive them. The "banner of the new mission" will end the term "customer" when referring to applicants or petitioners, which, Mr. Cissna states, is a reminder that they are always working for the American people.
USCIS also has developed a "Buy American, Hire American" web page focused on reducing illegal immigration, preserving U.S. jobs, enhancing fraud detection and prevention and further publicizing all companies filing for immigration benefits relating to the H-1B and L-1B programs.
Ironically, Mr. Cissna himself is a second-generation American, with grandparents hailing from Peru, as reported by the Washington Post.
It is of concern when the federal agency tasked with managing immigration to the United States changes its mission statement to reflect its new agenda, removing the language that has historically identified America as a "nation of immigrants." It is a marked departure from the welcoming words written by Emma Lazarus in her poem, "The New Colossus," that are engraved upon the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty rests.
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