The United States is no longer a ‘nation of immigrants’ according to the federal agency responsible for issuing green cards and granting citizenship.
Yesterday, the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a memorandum to employees informing them of a mammoth shift in policy. The letter informed workers that a long-standing mission statement had been revised ‘to guide us in the years ahead.’
Gone, writes The New York Times, was a line declaring America a ‘nation of immigrants.’
The original statement, penned in 2005, said, “U.S.C.I.S. 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.”
A new version, reported by the Times, 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.”
Agency director Francis L. Cissna, a Trump administration appointee, said the revision is a “simple, straightforward statement” that “clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.”
The term ‘nation of immigrants’ was coined by former President John F. Kennedy, who used the term in a book. It’s since been popularized to describe the multicultural fabric of American society – a society that’s been influenced in a great many ways by migrants from around the world.
Former agency director Leon Rodriguez said the replacement of the USCIS mission statement marks a “particularly sad turn of history.”
“We should not forget that under the discarded mission statement, the integrity and national security of U.S.C.I.S. grew – dramatically so – showing that we could be both a welcoming nation and a safe one,” he said. “We should stop to reflect about the many opportunities that America will lose because of the attitudes reflected in this statement and ask ourselves whether this is really the country we want to be.”
Since assuming office at the beginning of 2016, President Donald Trump has adopted an increasingly harsh stance on immigration – illegal and not. Initially promising to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program recipients, Trump rescinded the program last September, suggesting he’d stand by any effort to protect the long-term interests of Dreamers.
But by the beginning of autumn, the commander-in-chief shifted his position yet again. Demanding billions of dollars to build an improved barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump outlined his intent to curb legal migration by disposing of the Diversity Visa program and chain migration opportunities.
On Friday, the New York Post and other publications made an odd observation about current USCIS Director Cissna – that he himself is the son of immigrants and had characterized himself as a proud Spanish speaker and spouse of another second-generation American.