The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to integrate 22 Federal departments including what was once known as the Immigration & Naturalization Service. Now commonly referred to as Legacy INS, the INS managed all immigration processes, enforcement and border security. With the creation of DHS, Legacy INS was restructured and split into different sections; specifically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
For anyone in the field of immigration law 20 years ago, it was well known and understood that CBP and ICE would be the law enforcement sections focusing on border security and enforcement while USCIS would be tasked with customer benefits such as Permanent Residence and US Citizenship.
This is why the new USCIS mission statement, announced on February 9, 2022 is not only significant and welcome, but also places the agency back into alignment with its original creation.
February 9, 2022 USCIS Mission Statement
"USCIS upholds America's promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve."
In addition to the new mission statement, USCIS added the following core values to their website which are integrity, respect, innovation and vigilance. The new mission statement and further details about USCIS core values can be found here.
The February 9, 2022 mission statement along with the focus on these core values are important changes almost three years to the date of the prior USCIS mission statement, issued on February 22, 2018.
The prior USCIS mission statement, issued on February 22, 2018, reflected a harsh stance that USCIS would no longer be seen as a customer benefits agency but rather another arm of law enforcement under DHS. Some key changes were the removal of the terms "nation of immigrants" and the reference to "customers" which were present in the mission statement prior to 2018. With the removal of these terms, for three years, USCIS maintained a mission statement that was less welcoming, less inclusive and clearly not customer service focused but rather law enforcement oriented.
February 22, 2018 USCIS Mission Statement
"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."
For comparison, pre February 22, 2018 USCIS Mission Statement
"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."
Thus, we appreciate the February 9, 2022 critical shift in the mission statement by USCIS, which will benefit the community, both individuals and businesses, and all of the clients we serve.
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