Stop Messing With the Immigration Mission Statement and Start Letting More People In

Joe Biden is just the latest president to tinker with USCIS's mission statement. Watch his deeds, not his words.


This week, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new mission statement. Officials in the agency, which oversees visa processing and other key immigration and naturalization functions, scrapped the Trump administration's controversial statement.

"USCIS upholds America's promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve," the new statement reads. USCIS Director Ur Jaddou told employees in an email that it was more fitting of President Joe Biden's "commitment to an immigration system that is accessible and humane." The new statement comes from employee survey responses, in which USCIS workers proposed new phrasing like "innovation, welcoming, and opportunity."

That tone is a significant departure from USCIS's stated mission under former President Donald Trump. During his presidency, the agency spoke of administering "the nation's lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits"—all while "protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values." Trump's USCIS controversially omitted the long-present phrase "nation of immigrants" from its mission statement.

Anti-immigration groups have cited the Biden administration's new USCIS mission statement as proof that Biden is unserious about vetting immigrants and "protecting Americans," while pro-immigration organizations have praised its message of welcome.

There are two deeper problems lost in this scuffle, however. First, the Biden administration's handling of immigration so far has not matched the kinder, gentler mission statement. Second, the new USCIS mission statement highlights a worrying degree of executive sway over an agency that, by nature, should have consistent functions between presidential administrations.

Biden's USCIS has enacted a symbolic change, judging from the agency's track record in the past year. USCIS faces a massive green card backlog and has struggled to adjudicate applications and dole out visas. The agency let some 80,000 employment-based green cards expire in fiscal year 2021, and thousands of legal migrants were put out of work due to processing delays. Applicant wait times are abysmal—as high as 40 months for certain forms. It's hard for USCIS to claim it's welcoming people being kept out of the country by its own bureaucracy or serving them when it can't process employment authorizations. "Welcome and possibility" can be nearly impossible for migrants to access these days.

None of this even addresses how Biden officials have embraced a more humane mission statement in one component of the U.S. immigration system while also fast-tracking deportations for over 1 million migrants using a policy Trump imposed. Trump's USCIS mission statement may be gone, but the truly harmful instruments of his immigration system are still around. Biden officials have not been consistent in their commitment to an "accessible and humane" immigration system, telling Central American migrants who could benefit from USCIS asylum services, "do not come" to the U.S.

Dig deeper, though, and this week's chatter also raises questions about the deeply politicized nature of USCIS. USCIS deals with legal immigration—its explicit purpose is "to enhance the security and efficiency of national immigration services by focusing exclusively on the administration of benefit applications." It processes citizenship applications, manages family-based immigration, authorizes migrants to work, and oversees humanitarian programs for vulnerable populations. These are relatively mundane duties compared to the functions some of its sister agencies within the Department of Homeland Security perform.

Still, presidents have been able to frame these functions as they see fit, fundamentally shifting the expressed mission of an important agency. USCIS has now had three mission statements since 2005, and all have conveyed different messages. The first highlighted "America's promise as a nation of immigrants" and the importance of "providing accurate and useful information to our customers." The second saw "customers" removed, with Trump officials arguing that such phrasing wrongfully emphasized service to "applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people." The third is short, open-ended, and doesn't include "nation of immigrants" phrasing—despite its omission being so controversial under the Trump administration.

The customizable nature of USCIS should worry anyone who cares about an efficient, effective immigration system that welcomes migrants and helps them get to work in the U.S. Regularly changing mission statements only serve to poorly convey functions to applicants and introduce unpredictability to a government agency that should operate predictably. Unfortunately, this is an agency that presidents have grown used to personalizing, both in action and rhetoric.

So is this week's mission statement adjustment important? Perhaps, but more for what it signals about presidential influence than a fundamental shift within USCIS.

NEXT: The Super Bowl Will Be Played in the Most Expensive Stadium Ever Built. Taxpayers Didn't Pay a Dime.

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  1. American flags? How about we take the White Supremacy down a notch.

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  2. Trump's USCIS controversially omitted the long-present phrase "nation of immigrants" from its mission statement.

    Am I reading this correctly or did Biden choose to not put it back in?

    1. Over 1 million legal immigrants a year is apparently equal to zero immigrants to most reason editors.

      1. No shit. What else does Fiona want? They'll admit anybody that jumps the fence, then fly 'em to a republican-run city.

        1. Thats also including 2 million illegal immigrants last year and 100k refugees.

          1. And WTF is with this "accessible and humane" that they aren't getting shit? Who isn't being let in? Everyone is a "refugee" seeking asylum these days, though nobody can say from what.

            What the fuck aren't they getting? Free transportation, housing, food, medical care, new clothing, free fucking iPhone with an unlimited international plan, and the list goes on... on our back.

      2. Came here to say this. A million a year admitted legally. Probably 2 million a year illegally. That is the equivalent of an extra California every ten years or so (reproduction figured in).

    2. Where is “nation of immigrants” in the constitution?

      1. The democrat version that’s written in pencil.

  3. Fuck the tone, Fiona. How about we let in the self-sufficient people who will positively contribute to the future of this country? You know, people like doctors, mathematicians, biologists, physicists, chemists, engineers, etc. We need millions of them, and I am all for rolling out the red carpet to get those people to come here.

    We don't need any more lawyers, landscapers, or moochers. No thanks. China can have them.

    1. And women from Venezuela and Columbia. We need lots of them.

      1. Ah yes. There is that. And they are fine looking women. 🙂

        1. For a most finite period of time.

          1. Then you send them back for a trade-in.

      2. The bad part is that if they become Americanized, then we can expect many a man to be strung up for child support or alimony.

    2. And skilled tradesman, especially younger ones. We are in desperate need of these and the current age of skilled trades are all greater than 45.

      1. Some of the best masons I ever saw in action were hand-laying a cobblestone street in San Miguel de Allende In Mexico. Hard to believe a Calle could be a work of art.

    3. Nah, don't need any of them either. We have the 3rd largest population in the world, so if we can't find what we need out of that, then we have a lot of adjustments to make.

      1. The collapse of child-rearing and education in this country leaves a large proportion of our people unemployable. If we addressed that we would have much less need for immigrant labor.

    4. There's the problem. People like "doctors, mathematicians, biologists, physicists, chemists, engineers, etc." Come in legally because they have the resources to pay for Immigration Lawyers. Those same Immigration Lawyers donate heavily to the Democratic Party to ensure that the immigration laws are NOT changed.

    5. Prospective immigrants should also be screened for Marxist sympathies. Filtering out the leftists.

    6. " How about we let in the self-sufficient people who will positively contribute to the future of this country? "

      Does your God inform your views in this regard, Commenter_XY?

      If so, your God is not merely illusory but also a paltry, low-quality thing.

      And you are a right-wing bigot destined to be a culture war casualty in an America that continues to improve against your conservative wishes and Republican efforts.

      The only good news for you is that eventually you will be replaced, by your betters, so you will get to stop watching an America you hate. And your silly God can't help you.

      Carry on, clinger.

  4. The second saw "customers" removed, with Trump officials arguing that such phrasing wrongfully emphasized service to "applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people."

    And by the way, while I think "mission statements" are mostly just a lot of bluster, that's not an unreasonable position. People who end-zone dive into America are not 'customers', they're hopeful residents and citizens who, once affirmed BECOME customers of our government.

    1. Think about it. If we truly believed in open borders, then there would be no immigration department. But by virtue of having one, that means that the agency MUST exist to serve the American people.

      1. If we truly believed in open borders, the US would be a fourth-world shithole in one generation.

        1. We’re on our way!

  5. No worries; after the Nazi-Regime plan of destruction succeeds no one is going to want to live here. Juuuussssttt like Venezuela.

    1. Think about how much of the world lives. We would have to fall a long, long way to lose our attractiveness to most of the world's people.

  6. Get rid of the welfare state.

    Work visas were the common ground and they were shot down by the left. Open borders in the presence of a welfare state is idiotic.

    1. The entire point is a massive welfare state that requires a totalitarian government overseeing every aspect of everyone's lives.

      Ignorance, misery, and poverty are features, not bugs. The oligarchy needs a class of slave soldiers and worker bees for the next war, the next five year plan, the next revolution. Old stock traditional Americans haven't quite been cutting it with all their notions of freedom and self-reliance.

      1. That's another advantage of open borders to populations that are used to being quiet and compliant. It dilutes the pool of people who think they have rights and are willing to exercise them... always to the annoyance of the elites.

  7. Tired of all the white affluent Karens in my neighborhood. I could really use some more immigrants.

    1. I’ve lived in both neighborhoods now and both are insanely lonely and socially isolated neighborhoods.

      The immigrants only socialize with each other and no one else and the Karen’s are so fake you might as well be talking to a robot.

    2. You chose to live in a false elitist neighborhood in California. Nobody is stopping you from moving. And while you bitch about choices you've made you want others to not give a shit even though areas like southern Arizona lost multiple trauma 1 care hospitals due to unpaid bills from illegal immigrants. What an ignorant ass you are.

    3. Congrats on finding a brand new elitist first-world problem and the most prickish whine I've ever heard. Your neighborhood is too elite for your virtuous ass and it's just easier to talk about how you'd like to hang around brown people, but not enough to actually do it.

      It reminds me of when Nancy Pelosi stood there with a bunch of brown children proclaiming her love and how she just wanted to take all of them home... but of course, she wouldn't even touch the dirty little urchins. Didn't take ANY of them home either... cuz the staff roster and yard crew is filled.

      1. And certain persons in Cali are urging the rest of the peons there to take in as many illegals as they can. Now that only applies to working people, not movie and pop music stars and other wealthy liberals who run the state and are responsible for the mess those cities are in.
        Certainly not.

    4. I know a woman from Guatemala who is part owner of an Asian restaurant I frequent. She doesn’t like white peoples, thinks Americans are stupid, and only wants to hire Hispanics. She thinks Guatemalans are superior, even though they’re barely literate for the most part, and Guatemala is a dysfunctional, corrupt shithole, dependent on US foreign aid.

      A lot of immigrants are nothing like that, but despite Reason’s open borders bullshit to the contrary, a lot of them are.

    5. I hear Turks make good neighbors.
      Or maybe some....RUSSIANS!

  8. A new mission statement is a lot less work than doing the job they are paid for.

  9. I fail to see what is "humane" about flooding the US with millions of illegal migrants, destroying opportunities and wages for Americans, raising housing costs, and lowering the US standard of living.

    I fail to see what is "humane" about favoring illegal migrants over legal immigrants, who often take decades to obtain permanent residency.

    The fundamental issue here is that Congress and the courts let the executive branch get away with this in the first place. Programs like DACA, and Biden's selective deportations, are in violation of the law. The law says illegals and public charges must be deported, and refugees are limited to people who face severe political persecution in their countries of origin and who couldn't find safe harbor in an intermediate country.

    Enforce the law.

    And if you don't like the law, change it.

    Stop handing more and more power to the executive branch.

  10. Stop Messing With the Immigration Mission Statement and Start Letting More LEGAL IMMIGRANTS in.
    Again, Reason conflates and confuses.

    1. Huh??? The article is about legal immigration.

      1. The reason the US immigration system is so messed up for legal immigrants is because it is overwhelmed by illegals and by nominally legal but unintended immigration.

        1. Yep. There is no fixing our immigration "system" as long as invaders can simply walk around it.

  11. Biden thinks since he's let in so many illegals (often caught and shipped through out the country secretly in the middle of the night) he already is letting in enough immigrants.

  12. Until we get rid of the DIE ideology and federal handouts to illegal aliens and have an America which has common values of limited govt, sound money, free markets, and peace we should not be letting anyone in. Fix our house and as prosperity returns, we can talk about immigration.

  13. Every time i read a reason article I remember why I quit reading reason at all.

    1. So, why are you free riding on their comment section?

      1. Reason claims to represent libertarianism and it is a nominally libertarian brand name. That's why libertarians come here to comment. The fact that the magazine has gone to shit and that the comment section also attracts numerous progressives and socialists hasn't changed any of that.

      2. Because it’s fun to make fun of hypocrites.

      3. Since this is a libertarian publication, who are you to come here at all? You’re not a libertarian.

        1. Sure, I’m not. Who even are you?

          1. I’m a conservative/libertarian hybrid, and libertarian dominant. And I’m interested in discussing these issues. You appear to just spend your time here pushing the democrat agenda and antagonizing those who don’t.

            You loo like you would be more comfortable with the crowd from Vox, Dailybeast, or The Atlantic.

    2. BTW, your sentence is self contradicting.

      1. BTW your a weasel

        1. I think you mean, shitweasl.

  14. We need to maintain vax requirements for truckers to cross the border legally and no requirement to sneak across illegally.

    1. That's what "The Science" says!

  15. I don't care for the state, but what is the point of national borders or sovereignty if you can't have some semblance of control on the unabated flow of people from countries from all over the world, some that would even do us harm? We have to face the reality that not all of these people are coming to the U.S.A. "just to get a better life" and that the vast majority of people, although we might have some libertarian thought, think in terms of basic political left and right, not objectivism. Therefore, while it would be great if we lived in a world of basic morality all across the board, regardless of skin color, financial status, religious or political beliefs, there exist people who used altered morality or no morality at all in their decision to cross borders - either to suck off of a new government teat that will drain this nation into a state of what they left (no matter how long the Fed can keep up the pumping), and some who will come to take advantage of the broken system to wreak havoc. If you were a country, say China, that wanted access to the "richest" nations' resources or wanted to see them fall, I would definitely take advantage of the fact that a porous border would be a very good way to get operatives in. I know, conspiracy theory - but how much do we not know about those who come into this country? I suppose that's an actual risk we have to take. The fact of the matter is, the system is broken and will remain broken, whether there's a 'border wall' or not. As long as easy welfare, political bickering and a stupidly complex and backlogged legal immigration system exist, illegal aliens will exist.

  16. We can't have an orderly and beneficial immigration policy without border security. It doesn't matter what our policy is for who is allowed in if foreigners can simply walk around it, and illegal immigrants will always be more valuable to US slave owners employers than legal ones. The illegals will accept atrocious treatment rather than risk deportation by complaining. Get as much control of the borders as is feasible first; then we can talk about a beneficial and efficient program for guest workers and immigrants.

  17. Sure when the world is libertarian people will be free to move anywhere.

    1. When the world is libertarian everyone's current home will be much less likely to be a shithole from which they want to flee.

  18. No immigration increases until we completely dismantle the entire welfare state. Otherwise, a large portion of the new immigrants, whether legal or illegal, will end up burdening the US taxpayer. Even if they come here ready to work and be net taxpayers, the ones that are coming here to mooch will outweigh the contributions of the productive ones.

    Also, if we are to be realistic and practical libertarians, these new immigrants tend to vote for bigger government, not smaller government. Even if the ones that arrive from Communist countries hate big government, within three generations their spoiled grandkids have been indoctrinated by our leftist education system into demanding socialism/communism.

    In other words, get rid of the gov't education system too, before increasing immigration of any kind.

  19. The potential for more violence increases by the day as more unvetted/illegal immigrants invade our country.
    Child molesters, rapists, pedophiles...yup that's a good bunch. How about more gangs? MS 13 or Latin Kings move into your town? Celebrate diversity!
    No thanks. Build the wall, bring all our troops home and put them on the border. Add Apache attack helis ....just in case the cartels decide to fire on border patrol again. Or maybe an A-10 or two.
    So much for more immigration. As for human smugglers, they should be taken out and shot right there.
    Hey Fiona....make me a samich and bring me a beer.

    1. Don't forget to attack the root of the problem—start dropping cruise missiles on the mansions of the cartel bosses.

  20. What's the matter, Harrigan, your gardener or your upstairs maid get uppity again? Why do we need millions more from shithole countries just to keep you in cabana boys?

  21. That's what "The Science" says

  22. .. so we can have more corporate wage suppression
    .. so we can have more clogged roads
    ..So we can have more unaffordable housing we can have more overburdened schools we can have higher tax burdens long as we can reward the investor class even more.. YES PLEASE

    1. PARTY OF THE RICH: Democrats Are 7 Of 10 Wealthiest Members Of Congress
      Jeff Bezos Worth: $177 billion Democrat
      The top four richest Americans, and seven of the top nine, all give more money to Democrats than Republicans.
      Interestingly the Democratic party as a whole skews towards the wealthy. The New York Times noted in October 2016 that in a recent poll 45% of households making over $100,000 were voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton opposed to 28% of Republicans voting for Trump. Those earning above $250,000 were even more skewed towards Hillary, with 53% planning to vote for her vs only 25% for Trump.

      1. There is your investor class Tony.

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