The first senior leadership conference of the nation’s immigration services agency, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, resulted in the agency stripping the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna stated that the agency’s mission is more “simple and straightforward,” and emphasized that immigrants are not “customers” of USCIS, in the news release announcing the change. As of February 22, 2018, the new mission statement 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.”
In the agency news release, Director Cissna indicates the change is part of a common goal that agency employees share and are “passionate about,” which is “upholding the rule of law”. He emphasized that deletion of the terms “customers” was important because,
“the referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as ‘customers’ 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. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.
Media reports indicate that the agency change was not mandated by the president, but was instead the result of debate within the agency: “The White House did not direct USCIS to change its mission statement. It was developed and debated [sic] within the agency by USCIS Director Cissna during his first senior leadership conference with USCIS staff, and reflects the director’s guiding principles for the agency. The new mission statement also has the support of the secretary of Homeland Security.”
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.”