U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) altered its mission statement on Thursday by taking out a reference to the U.S. as a "nation of immigrants."
The new 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."
The agency said the new mission statement focuses on the priorities of "fairness, lawfulness and efficiency."
"The agency’s new mission statement was developed and debuted within the agency by USCIS Director Cissna during his first conference with USCIS senior leadership from around the world," a USCIS official told The Hill. "It reflects the director’s guiding principles for the agency. This includes a focus on fairness, lawfulness and efficiency, protecting American workers, and safeguarding the homeland. These key priorities are reflected in the agency’s new mission statement.
"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," the official added.
The previous mission statement 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."
USCIS is the administrative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes appellate review.
USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna also defended the changes in an email to staff on Thursday.
"In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as ‘customers’ promotes 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 wrote.
The Intercept first reported the changes.
-Updated 4:12 p.m.