USCIS: Not a nation of immigrants

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“Nation of immigrants” is out of the the USCIS mission statement. So is any mention of citizenship. Does that mean that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with admitting immigrants and processing citizenship applications no longer believes the United States is a nation of immigrants? “The statement speaks for itself,” said the chief USCIS spokesperson.

The mission statement change formalizes changes made in USCIS under the Trump administration—all unilateral administrative changes, made without any changes in law. As the New York Times reports, under the Trump administration and new USCIS director L. Francis Cissna:

“The agency has increased scrutiny of visa applications for foreign workers whom American companies seek to hire; it has changed the asylum application process to discourage people from seeking safe haven in the United States; and it has added steps to the process for foreigners already in the country to obtain legal permanent residency, or a green card.”

Here’s the old mission statement and the new mission statement:

OLD:
“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.”

NEW:

“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.”

Speaking to the larger immigration battles underway in Washington, Vox argues that the immigration debate is about whether Latinos are “real Americans”:

“Donald Trump, simply by having taken DREAMers hostage while insinuating repeatedly that they (and the legal immigrant communities they represent) represent a dangerous, un-American threat to the interests of real Americans, has done grave damage to social harmony and equal liberty. He has commanded the immense cultural authority of the bully pulpit to tell Americans of all stripes how they stack up in the eyes of the American state.

“White Americans anxious about retaining their cultural and political dominance have been told that, yes, they are the American-est and that they matter most. Hispanic Americans get the mirror-image message: Their existence here is a problem, their origins throw a cloud of suspicion over their status as members of “the people,” and their moral/cultural claim to equality under the law is weak.

And then there’s California:

“We’re getting no help from the state of California,” Trump said from the White House. “Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime nest like you’ve never seen in California. All I’d have to do is say ‘ICE and border patrol, let California learn.’”

“[California Governor Jerry] Brown responded with a statement Thursday afternoon: “In California, we protect all of our people from criminals and gangs, as well as dangerous assault weapons. We do our job, Mr. President, you do yours.”…

California Senator Dianne Feinstein weighed in:

“President Trump today renewed his attacks on California with more insults and threats. The president’s obsession with our state is growing more outrageous by the day,” Feinstein continued in her statement Thursday. “California is the 6th largest economy in the world. We’re the global hub of innovation and the largest farm state in the country. We’re creating jobs and driving the nation’s economy. At the same time, the state’s murder rate keeps falling and crime is at a historic low.”  

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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