USCIS: Keep “A Nation of Immigrants” in Your Mission Statement

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In a letter to employees on February 22nd, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna announced the agency would be changing their mission statement and removing the words “a nation of immigrants.”

It now 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."

This stands as a significant deviation from the agency’s previous mission statement which includes "USCIS secures America's promise as a nation of immigrants." Omitting this phrase from the USCIS mission statement undermines and rejects one of the bedrock principles the United States was founded on. It not only goes against our values as a nation, but demonstrates the current administration’s contempt for immigrants and refugees and a repudiation of our history.

As the son of a Peruvian immigrant mother, USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna should understand the importance of the words “a nation of immigrants.” We cannot separate immigrants from Americans, as the two are inherently linked. The mission statement will not change the fact that the United States was built on the backs of immigrants, those who came seeking a better life and those who were forcefully brought here. However, we will not allow the Trump Administration to continue to divide Americans from immigrants and frame it as a security issue when it’s a human rights issue.

For our Define American Chapter President, the removal of these words from the USCIS mission statement feels like a rejection of his family who emigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.  

Add your name to those who want to keep our most fundamental principle intact while honoring our diverse history by demanding that USCIS reinstate the phrase “a nation of immigrants” in its mission statement.

Define American at Rutgers University-Camden