New USCIS Mission Statement

Eliza Grinberg's picture

On February 22, 2018, the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), L. Francis Cissna, issued a new mission statement for the USCIS [PDF version]. The new mission statement reads as follows:

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 our homeland, and honoring our values.

The new USCIS statement reflects the immigration priorities of the Trump Administration. Similar to many other immigration policy statements, the new USCIS mission statement emphasizes protecting the immigration system. Firstly, it notes that USCIS protects the lawful immigration system of the United States by “safeguarding its integrity and promise.” As we have noted in many articles covering new immigration policies and statements, maintaining the integrity of the immigration system through fraud prevention and enforcement has been a focus for the USCIS under the new immigration priorities of the Trump Administration. Interestingly, the statement ties this point to protecting the “promise” of the U.S. immigration system.

We also see in the new USCIS mission statement an emphasis on security. After noting that the USCIS endeavors to adjudicate benefit requests “fairly and efficiently,” the statement notes that USCIS's role is also to “protect[] Americans” and “secur[e] our homeland.” Including these points in the new USCIS mission statement is consistent with many of the recent initiatives that the USCIS has implemented with the intention of ensuring that the immigration system does not harm U.S. citizen employment.

Director Cissna's comments in the press release announcing the new mission statement included additional points. First, he emphasized that the USCIS is “responsible for ensuring that those who naturalize are dedicated to this country, share our values, assimilate into our communities, and understand their responsibility to help preserve our freedom and liberty.” In this statement, Director Cissna focuses on whether applicants for naturalization can proverbially assimilate into U.S. society and culture. This focus on assimilation is arguably consistent with the DHS's current support for eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery, which seeks to accord immigrant visas (with a path to citizenship) to individuals based on national origin rather than on the probability that they will be able to assimilate into U.S. society.

Secondly, Director Cissna stated that USCIS's work should not resemble that of a “production line.” Here, he rejected calling applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits “customers.” The reason he offered was that referring to applicants and petitioners as customers promotes a culture where the emphasis is on customer satisfaction rather than on correctly adjudicating applications and petitions. While noting that applicants and petitioners should be treated with respect, Director Cissna stated that the USCIS ultimately serves the American people, who count on it to correctly implement the immigration laws.

Although the new USCIS mission statement and the associated comments by Director Cissna do not reflect a change in any particular policy, they are indicative of the immigration priorities of the USCIS under the Trump Administration.

New USCIS Mission Statement