The federal agency that oversees the legal immigration system on Wednesday replaced a controversial Trump-era mission statement that had removed the ‘nation of immigrants’ label, calling the United States a ‘welcoming nation’. and possibility” in its new credo.
In an internal message to agency employees, Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ur Jaddou said the new mission statement better reflects the administration’s “commitment Biden in favor of an accessible and humane immigration system”.
“We strive to provide a prompt yes or no decision, and with the utmost respect, to every petitioner or individual seeking USCIS benefits, whether a U.S. citizen seeking reuniting with a family member, a US company trying to hire a qualified foreign national, a lawful permanent resident seeking naturalization, or someone hoping to find refuge from persecution,” Jaddou wrote.
Wednesday’s change, though symbolic, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to erase remnants of the immigration program employed by the Trump administration, which has focused on restricting most people. legal immigration channels and used harsher rhetoric towards immigrants.
Last year, the Biden administrationimmigration agencies to remove terms like “illegal aliens” which they deemed dehumanizing.
In 2018, an outcry among progressive immigration advocates and others ensued when the Trump administration released a mission statement for USCIS that, among other changes, omitted the phrase “immigrant nation present in the agency’s previous and longstanding mission statement.
The Trump administration’s statement reads: “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s legal immigration system, maintaining its integrity and promise by adjudicating applications efficiently and fairly. immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and upholding our values.”
Then-USCIS Director Francis Cissna said he also removed “clients” from the mission statement in 2018 because he believed the word fostered an “institutional culture” focused on satisfaction of people applying for immigration benefits.
“Use of the term leads to the mistaken belief that candidates and petitioners, rather than the American people, are who we ultimately serve,” Cissna said at the time.
The Biden administration replaced the Trump-era mission statement with a shorter, albeit very different, mission statement: “USCIS delivers on America’s promise as a nation of welcome and opportunity with fairness, integrity and respect for all those we serve.”
In his agency-wide email, Jaddou said the new statement incorporated feedback from 750 employees who responded to a survey.
“Overwhelmingly, the word you submitted was Integrity, and you also cited Compassion, Service, Safety, Respect, Decisiveness, Fairness, Innovation, Welcoming and Opportunity “, she told employees.
Michael Knowles, an American asylum worker and president of Local 1924, a union representing USCIS employees in the greater Washington, D.C. area, praised the new mission statement, saying it “renew our sense of purpose and affirm what our country stands for. “
“How we treat those who seek our protection determines who we are: the American Dream is either renewed or betrayed, one case at a time,” Knowles added. “When we treat each individual with dignity and respect, we keep faith in the promise.”
USCIS employees adjudicate applications for green cards, asylum, refugee status, U.S. citizenship, work permits, deferred deportation, and other immigration benefits.
Since President Biden took office, USCIS has instituted numerous policy changes, many of them to reverse limits on legal immigration imposed by the Trump administration. The agency ended a 2019 rule that made it harder for low-income immigrants to gain permanent residency and rolled back some asylum restrictions.
But USCIS, which is primarily funded by filing fees, continues to struggle with a growing backlog of petitions that has crippled its ability to review cases in a timely manner, and the agency still relies heavily on paper records. .
He must also implement several key policy proposals from the Biden administration, including a plan to revamp the asylum process at the U.S.-Mexico border and a rule to protect the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals. of the Obama era against legal challenges.