March 31, 2023
L. Francis Cissna

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 23, 2018) — U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) made changes to its mission statement yesterday, taking out the phrases “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” and “promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship,” and adding the words “protecting Americans, securing the homeland.”

The word “customer” was also removed from the statement. USCIS Director Cissna explained the change, saying, “Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.” He also stated that the agency’s priorities include “protecting American workers [and] safeguarding the homeland.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | LA,  responded to the changes on Friday with a condemnation of the changes.

“As U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ name clearly states, its purpose is to serve citizens and immigrants, not function as law enforcement. This change is just one of a daily onslaught of attacks on immigrant communities that is rooted in nativism and fear-mongering about immigrants. Director Cissna can change the words on a website but he cannot change our nation’s core values as a nation of immigrants.

Advancing Justice will continue to closely monitor USCIS’s policy changes and actions, and fight for the right of all Americans, including immigrant Americans, to sponsor close family members and to become U.S. citizens.

The “petitioners” that Director Cissna refers to are actually American people and the “applicants” are future Americans (immigrants). There are more than 20 million naturalized citizens, with immigrants from Asia being the largest group of naturalized citizens. As of 2014, 8.9 million lawful permanent residents were eligible to naturalize.

We will work even harder to assist Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other immigrants to naturalize, both to protect themselves from this administration and to fully participate in our democracy.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.


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