USCIS Cleans Up Mission Statement; Is It enough?
The revised “mission statement” of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services no longer contains the words “nation of immigrants.”The deletion, and new wording, has some – including a former USCIS director — gnashing their teeth.“It’s a particularly sad turn of history,” said León Rodríguez, director of the agency from 2014 to 2017.Is it?The new mission statement, announced by USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna, 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.”Previously, it stated:“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.”Cissna called the new phraseology a “simple, straightforward statement.” He noted that the word “customer” was removed because it gave a false impression about the agency responsible for vetting foreign applicants for green cards and citizenship.“We should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms,” Cissna said.That’s a noteworthy departure from the Obama era, when USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas proclaimed in 2011, “We are committed to providing the highest quality customer service.””Get-to-yes” customer service policies under Mayorkas resulted in “favoritism and special access” for political cronies and foreign interests, a damning Inspector General’s investigation revealed in 2015.The notion that immigrants are USCIS’s customers is completely backwards. It is the American people who are the customers and USCIS is its representative charged with making sure we are getting a good product. Immigrants should be the ones selling us on what they can do for us, not the other way around.“‘A nation of immigrants’ isn’t a mission statement, it’s a slogan,” says FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman. “The biggest problem with our immigration system is that it lacks a clear national interest objective.”While USCIS’s newly crafted mission statement may better articulate the service’s role, the commitment to strict enforcement remains hazy and subject to political expediency.Addressing a Border Security Expo last month in San Antonio, the deputy secretary at USCIS’s parent agency — the Department of Homeland Security – had an opportunity to clarify matters.Listing her department’s priorities, Elaine Duke was careful to say DHS was not pursuing “an anti-immigration strategy.” “It’s an immigration strategy,” she said.How that strategy effectuates the security of America and the protection of its people will count for more than mere words.
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