USCIS announced Thursday, February 22nd, that it is revising its mission statement. In a move that has many questioning the future impact of this change, USCIS changed its existing mission statement which 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.
The new USCIS 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.
Noticeably missing in the new mission is the principled statement, “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants,” and, “Providing accurate and useful information to our customers.” This new mission instead asserts its goal of, “protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.” When subsequently asked about the removal of the term, “nation of immigrants,” from the mission statement, Jonathan Withington, USCIS Chief of Media Relations said simply “The statement speaks for itself and clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and commitment we have to the American people.”
USCIS Director, Francis Cissna, when discussing this change emphasized that the additional removal of the word “customers” from the mission statement is required as it promoted “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.” He continued, “Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.”
USCIS moved into a separate entity from CBP and ICE in 2003 specifically to provide an agency where people would feel comfortable working with as a separate benefits granting agency, rather than an enforcement-based agency. It remains unclear the future impact of this change, and SPS Immigration will continue to provide updates as appropriate.