US Visa US Citizenship and Immigration Services controversy as ‘nation of immigrants’ is removed from mission statement under Trump

In the midst of a Trump crackdown on US Visas, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has scrapped the term ‘a nation of immigrants’ from its mission statement.

Sanwar Ali workpermit.com comment:

This is another indication of a toughening of attitudes towards immigrants from a President whose mother was an immigrant and all of whose wives have been immigrants. 

Donald Trump continues to face one embarrassing situation after another.  Stormy Daniels an adult film star claims that she was in a short term relationship with Trump while married to Melania Trump.   Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen says that he had paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to not talk about her interactions with Trump.  This and the new Syrian air strikes have made a lot more news recently than US visa related issues.

USCIS is a federal agency tasked with granting US visas and citizenship. Its new mission statement is said to ‘clearly define the agency’s role in the country’s lawful immigration system and its commitment to the American people,” according to a letter sent to staff by USCIS director, L. Francis Cissna – obtained by NBC News.

It’s understood that the agency’s new mission statement was launched internally by Cissna following his first conference meeting with senior USCIS officials from around the world. A USCIS public affairs officer said: “It [the mission statement] reflects the director’s guiding principles for the agency.”

“This includes a focus on fairness, lawfulness and efficiency, protecting American workers, and safeguarding the homeland,” the public affairs officer added.

Previous USCIS mission statement

The USCIS’ previous mission statement proudly described America as ‘a nation of immigrants’, reading: “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 new statement appears to reflect the nation’s current, uncompromising stance on US immigration, saying: “US 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.”

Statement changed by son of an immigrant

Ironically, Cissna – the man responsible for changing the statement – is the son of an immigrant. His mother arrived in the United States from Peru. Cissna is also married to a Middle Eastern immigrant. He was backed by President Donald Trump for the position of director at USCIS and sworn in on October 8, 2017.

Unsurprisingly, Cissna’s decision to alter the USCIS’ mission statement has been met by a backlash from pro-immigrant supporters. In true Donald Trump style, many took to Twitter to express their outrage.

One person tweeted: “Cissna is the worst kind of immigrant. The kind that burns the bridge behind him,” while another said: “Francis Cissna’s mother was an immigrant from Peru and he grew up speaking Spanish at home. What is the Spanish word for ‘hypocrite’?”

Senior director for refugee protection at the Human Rights First organization, Eleanor Acer, said: “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.”

“We cannot separate ‘immigrants’ from ‘Americans’ — we are intrinsically linked as children, parents, neighbors, and loved ones. By seeking to distinguish between the two, the administration is turning its back on our nation’s proud history and engaging in dangerous revisionism.”

The uproar is most likely due to Cissna’s message when he was a nominee for Director of USCIS. Prior to his appointment, Cissna told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing last May that ‘the immigrant experience had always been a fundamental part of his family life and he’d be proud to carry that heritage with him.’

Cissna said: “Our family is literally a product of our nation’s legal immigration system. Should I be confirmed, these experiences will undoubtedly illuminate everything I do as USCIS director.”

Applicants no longer customers

As part of the new mission statement, Cissna insisted that US visa applicants would no longer be referred to as ‘customers’ stating that the term ‘promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law.’

He claims that referring to visa applicants as customers implies that the USCIS exists to serve anyone other than ‘the American people.’ Cissna – who has worked for the US Department of Homeland Security since 2005 - has given no explanation as to why the reference to America as a ‘nation of immigrants’ has been removed.

It’s understood that USCIS changed their mission statement on Thursday, February 22 and is now live on the agency’s website in the ‘About USCIS’ section. The agency employees around 19,000 staff and lists integrity, respect, innovation and vigilance as its core values.

USCIS assumed responsibility of US immigration service functions on behalf of the federal government on March 1, 2003. The agency was formed under the Homeland Security Act, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to oversee immigration enforcement and border security.

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