Immigration agency adds ‘respect’ and ‘welcome’ to mission statement after Trump-era controversy


By Geneva Sands, CNN

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has changed its mission statement again, four years after the Trump administration removed the phrase “immigrant nation” from the agency’s statement, a decision which provoked backlash from immigrant rights groups and others.

Under the Biden administration, the agency takes a different approach, using words like “welcome” and “respect,” as well as shortening the length of the statement.

The Trump-era change was made in February 2018 and came to represent a shift to a more radical approach with a statement that emphasized “safeguarding one’s integrity” and “securing the homeland”. .

The pushback was swift as outside groups, a former agency executive and Democratic lawmakers condemned the move. The American Immigration Lawyers Association called it “an insidious attempt by the Trump administration to diminish the valuable contributions that immigrants have made” to the United States.

León Rodríguez, who served as a director under President Barack Obama, wrote in the Washington Post, “Regardless of the Trump administration’s rhetoric, we are, we always have been, and I’m optimistic enough to say that even in these times, we will always be a “nation of immigrants.

The agency’s new mission statement reads, “USCIS delivers on America’s promise as a nation of welcome and opportunity with fairness, integrity, and respect for all those we serve.”

This is the agency’s third mission statement since 2005. USCIS is responsible for administering federal immigration benefits, programs, and other applications, including conducting naturalization ceremonies, processing green and verification of employment eligibility.

The Biden administration’s rhetoric on immigration has diverged sharply from that of the previous administration, emphasizing the contribution of immigrants to the United States and “welcome” strategies, as well as the decision to stop using the term “illegal alien” in public documents and speeches.

However, overhauling immigration policy has proven trickier for the administration as lawsuits and infighting have stalled policy changes, despite the lofty goals set by President Joe Biden when he took office. function.

Last year, USCIS gave employees the opportunity to submit words they felt best exemplified the agency’s work. The updated statement incorporates those comments, the Biden administration’s priorities and USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou’s vision for the agency, according to USCIS.

“This new mission statement reflects the inclusive nature of our country and this agency,” she said in a statement, adding that the United States “will remain a welcoming nation that welcomes people from all over the world who seek the family reunification, employment or professional opportunities”. , and humanitarian protection.

Jaddou, who took office in August 2021, said USCIS is committed to “ensuring that the immigration system we administer is accessible and humane.”

In 2018, when L. Francis Cissna headed the agency, the full statement was changed to: “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s legal immigration system, maintaining its integrity and promises by effectively and fairly adjudicating applications for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and upholding our values.

In a letter to employees at the time, Cissna said the agency responds to the American people and looks to USCIS to ensure those who qualify for immigration benefits receive them and those who do not. were not eligible did not receive them.

Prior to the Trump administration, the mission statement, which was the agency’s first, read: “USCIS secures America’s promise as an immigrant nation by providing accurate and helpful to our clients, providing immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.

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